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Throwback: A Big-League Catcher Tells How the Game Is Really Played

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  174 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Ever Wonder What's Being Said at Home Plate?
How a Team Silently Communicates?
What Goes on in the Clubhouse Behind Closed Doors?

America's pastime has always left fans and amateur players alike yearning for the answers to questions about how pros play the game.

Jason Kendall is an All-Star catcher who has seen just about everything during his years with the Pittsburgh Pirates
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by St. Martin's Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Apr 04, 2014 Mike rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: soccer fans
I won it in a giveaway here, but I have to say that it’s one of the worst books I’ve ever read. The writing is atrocious, repetitious, and reads like something a 4th grader might jot down at night before going to bed. Kendall might have a decent personality and undoubtedly some lively stories to tell, but he was saddled with a writer who couldn’t or wouldn’t bring either to the book. As for the supposedly inside scoop on the game, there isn’t any. For someone who actually loves the game the book ...more
Doug Dams
Jun 21, 2014 Doug Dams rated it liked it
This is a good baseball book. But it was a little repetitive. It did provide some insights into the big league players and how they play the game. I was expecting more baseball stories to illustrate some of the game situations. Also some photographs would have made the book more interesting. Basically, Jason Kendall talks about the situations that occur on every pitch and how those situations relate to what you see on the field. He goes over each player, the coaches and the umpires and what they ...more
Mark Stevens
Aug 20, 2014 Mark Stevens rated it really liked it
According to Jason Kendall in “Throwback,” the sport of baseball is non-stop action.

There are always adjustments underway based on the pitcher, the count, the hitter, the time of day. Everything. “Throwback” is about the little things that make baseball fascinating. It’s about the minuscule moments of anticipation most of us don’t appreciate.

If you watch even a half-dozen baseball games a year, you’ll get something out of Jason Kendall’s inside look at the infinite number of complexities that
Peter Engley
Jun 19, 2014 Peter Engley rated it really liked it
If you have love the sport of baseball, Throwback by Lee Judge and Jason Kendall is the ideal book for you. Kendall played the baseball from 1996-2010 with five different teams. Throwback is how the game is really played from Jason’s point of view. He takes you around the horn, and tells you everything there is to know about everything in baseball from pitchers to outfielders, fielding and hitting, and even takes you into the clubhouse. The book cover topics from “the right way to hit a batter” ...more
Brian E. Spivey
Apr 10, 2014 Brian E. Spivey rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

This may be the best baseball book I have ever read. Jason Kendal breaks the game down to the bare bones and tries to explain the basics in an understandable way. He is mostly successful. He makes the reader really change his way of watching a baseball game by going through and explaining not only but what happens, but also why.
As I read the book, and then watched games, I found myself looking for the things he described and findin
Oct 01, 2014 Claire rated it liked it
I received Throwback as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

A veteran major league catcher, Jason Kendall fills readers in on the finer points of baseball, both on and off the field. He takes you around the horn, exploring the ins and outs of each position from pitcher to outfielder, fielding and hitting, and even into the clubhouse to explore the tiny signs that can turn a game around.

I was hoping there'd be more anecdotes about his career as a player, but it's not really that kind of book--it's more
Aug 21, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing
One of my Top 3 favorite books of all time. Kendall takes you on a inside look at the life of an MLB baseball player. While there isn't any selling out teammates or crazy locker room stories (like Jim Bouton's Ball Four), Kendall breaks down every part of a game, and explains in-depth exactly what is happening on an MLB field every moment of the game. From explaining how every defensive player knows what pitch is about to be thrown to how catchers talk to umpires, this book is a great read. Very ...more
Mike Gabor
May 22, 2014 Mike Gabor rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
As I've been following baseball for over 50 years now I really didn't learn too much from this book but, I think this would be an excellent read for someone who is just starting to get into baseball or for a more casual fan. Kendall covers just about all that needs to be covered here. He breaks things down in a clear and concise manner and does so with some humor. One thing that I did pick up though was why it's better for a pitcher to throw a change up to a batter in a bunt situation rather tha ...more
Aug 10, 2014 Allen rated it liked it
If you are a baseball fan this book is a decent read.The book tells the basics of baseball from the player perspective.I feel this is just a way for Jason Kendall to crack into the book business ,there appears to be some stories that are itching to break out.Overall highly recommended to new baseball fans.
Brandon Forsyth
May 09, 2014 Brandon Forsyth rated it it was ok
Not a lot here to recommend, unless you're a casual baseball fan who wants to learn more about the game and doesn't mind a liberal use of cursing to get there. It did make me want to watch a baseball game, though perhaps not in the way its authors intended - namely, instead of reading this book.
Sep 01, 2014 Meril rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball, nonfiction, g
An interesting mix of a mostly useful inside-the-game baseball primer and a retired player's wishes for all the "soft" millennials to get the [bleep] off his lawn. Sadly the latter aspect of retro machismo overpowers the former's usefulness.
Nov 05, 2014 Thomas rated it it was ok
Throwback has interesting information about how professional baseball games are played, but the author is not a great writer, and I find him to be over confident.
Aug 24, 2014 Mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball
Should have thrown it back. Kendall bloviates, in brief, boring paragraphs, about baseball minutiae that would be interesting if presented in a context of some sort. This book was dull as hell.
Reid Mccormick
Dec 22, 2016 Reid Mccormick rated it liked it
Professional baseball players make the sport look easy. When I watch a game, it is fairly obvious what each player is trying to do in that given moment. Except for your unusual trick play, it is clear what the hitter, pitcher, runner, and fielders are trying to do in a situation. The difficult part is making that stuff happen.

Jason Kendall is definitely an old school guy and his book Throwback is simply about the details of the game. Everyone knows that pitcher needs to throw strikes and the hit
David Barney
Dec 07, 2016 David Barney rated it it was amazing
Fun book to read. Wonderful insight in many aspects of the game of baseball. As the authors said "the game inside the game." There is so much that goes on during a game. For those that say baseball is a slow or boring game, this book will shed light on all the aspects of the game.
Oct 06, 2016 Kody rated it really liked it
Throwback is more than a book about baseball. Throwback by Jason Kendall was written by Jason Kendall himself, Kendall was a catcher for multiple teams and was in the Major leagues for fifteen seasons. I said that because he has better insight of the game than a normal author. Kendall takes you through a journey of all the positions of the field from catching to the media. Kendall's purpose was to give an insider's view of the game from a players perspective. This book is about pregame rituals, ...more
Budd Bailey
Jul 14, 2015 Budd Bailey rated it really liked it
Jason Kendall might not be the most obvious choice to write a book about baseball, in the sense that he had a good long career but wasn't a household name. In fact, many baseball fans outside of cities like Pittsburgh and Kansas City might have trouble picking him out of a police lineup - not that he's likely to be in one.

Kendall had other ideas in mind. He wanted to write a book on how baseball is really played - filled with information that isn't well known. Kendall teamed up with Kansas City
John Schlotfelt
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to review this book. I think, ultimately, the problems come down to Lee Judge. Or maybe the good people at St. Martin's Press. It's nearly unconscionable that former major league ball player Jason Kendall should be given 300 pages to explain the ins and outs of baseball. He is certainly knowledgeable, but knowing how to play mind games with a power hitter on a 3-0 count does not make you a writer.
There's a d
Dan Richards
Jul 02, 2016 Dan Richards rated it it was ok
As Kendall admits himself in the final pages, "This book is just one guy's opinion about how the game should be played." Luckily for me, I mostly agree with his opinion: I am sympathetic to his hardened approach, mostly inspired by his father's generation who had "construction gigs on the side in the off-season" and his noting of David Eckstein as a player who plays "the right way." The downside is that this take is framed in his larger critique of the current state of baseball, a critique also ...more
Todd Stockslager
May 31, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Review title: What there is in baseball (no crying)
Loyal Pirates fans like myself will remember that during the 20 dark years the Pirates always had one good player who, despite the designated pity slot, usually deserved to make the All-Star team. For several years Jason Kendall was that guy, and he has turned his sharp mind to documenting what really happens on the field before and during a game. It turns out his tongue and wit are as sharp as his mind, and as a gritty everyday ball player's ba
Jacob Uhl
Throwback is a book written in the view of a major league catcher. His name is Jason Kendall and he is arguably the best catcher in baseball he played for 20 years. He played on multiple major league teams and knows everything there is to know about the life of a major league catcher. Jason talks about everything from the time that you arrive to the ballpark to what you do when you are leaving it. He knows everything there is to know about what you need to do to improve your game and even make y ...more
Tie Kim
Aug 09, 2014 Tie Kim rated it it was ok
If you played the 'word association' game with casual fans of major league baseball baseball and elicit a reaction for Jason Kendall, I think the most common response would be "gruesome ankle injury". However, a baseball devotee might also answer that Kendall was a "warrior", "clubhouse guy", and an old school "throwback".

This is an entertaining book on how to watch the beloved game of baseball, our national pastime, from the unique perspective of someone who played professionally for 16+ seaso
Dec 17, 2014 Caseylamkin rated it really liked it
I thought this was a great book, I just want to start off by saying you need to have a decent grasp of the game of baseball before you start reading. A couple of things I liked how Jason Kendall told me all of the things about the positions and how major league ballplayers see and play the game.The best thing I liked about the book is how I thought I knew the game of baseball after I read the book there were games with inside the game that I didn't know, like the thrid base coach doesn't call t ...more
John Kaufmann
Sep 08, 2014 John Kaufmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball-sports
Jason Kendall was a catcher in the major leagues for about 15 years, and a three-time All-Star. He provides an insiders view of the game, coverings all aspects of the game - pitching, catching, infielders, outfielding, baserunning, managing, even what happens as part of players' pre-game routine.

This book can enrich your appreciation of the game. It provides a deeper understanding of all the little details that can make a difference in winning or not, all the details that differentiate the majo
Mar 02, 2015 Rafael rated it really liked it
I am a huge baseball fan and always admired Jason Kendall. He was one of the most badass catchers I have ever watched. This book peeks behind the scenes as well dives into what really goes through a players and managers mind at the major league level. Baseball may seem boring and mundane to the average fan but there’s a lot more that happens that don’t realize unless we pay attention carefully. I really love this quote:

“The brain of a catcher is like a hamster running on a wheel: it’s going all
Apr 08, 2015 Donald rated it liked it
Overall, this is a very good book if you want to know how to play the game the "old school way"! Kendall lays it all out there, in almost a technical manual sort of way. He reminds me of the character Crash Davis from the movie "Bull Durham". I would highly recommend this for anyone who really wants to know more, or improve their game, especially an aspiring catcher! As for me, I wanted more of a biography of a player I really admired. He played for my favorite team, the Oakland A's, and I was h ...more
Dan Ryan
Aug 09, 2014 Dan Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: recently-read
This book will enrich your appreciation of baseball and baseball players. I have always loved baseball, but I am at best a mediocre fan. I can't tell you the complete lineup of my favorite team, and I couldn't list the long relievers in the bullpen. I'm just an average fan who enjoys watching the game.

This book will increase the sophistication of the average fan. It makes you realize that the guy who struck out after fouling off 6 pitches has helped his team a lot more than the knucklehead who p
Greg Thomas
Jul 28, 2016 Greg Thomas rated it liked it
I read a lot of baseball themed books. I never played professionally but did in college. This is a worthwhile read from the standpoint of the value it provides about the intricate details of the professional game. For a quick read I extracted enough new and worthwhile information to make it worth my time. However, I think Jason does himself a disservice by hammering home the idea that he was a tough player and most guys weren't as tough as him. That seems to be the common theme in the book: "I d ...more
Oct 22, 2014 Marcusl rated it really liked it
This Book is written by a baseball player who was a quite superstar. Yielding a strong personality Mr. Kendall tells how ball players don't just react, they are constantly playing mind games with the pitcher. Not a thrill to read, but my knowledge of baseball went through the roof after reading this book. If you are a baseball player, any baseball player, you should read this book. Or maybe you are just a fan of baseball and your friend thinks baseball is boring. tell him to read this book then ...more
Marc Pressley
Aug 01, 2015 Marc Pressley rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
The consensus opinion seems to be that it's a good insider look at the game that was sometimes a little repetitive. I'd agree with that. I learned a few new intricacies of the game, which was good. And while I always respected Kendall as a ballplayer, I found some new respect for how he approached the game after reading this.

It seems like a lot of people were looking for baseball stories from Kendall's career, which may explain some of the lower ratings. I was actually looking for what this book
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