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Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,043 ratings  ·  113 reviews
A Season on the Mound with Minor League Baseball's Most Unlikely Pitcher

Matt McCarthy never expected to get drafted by a Major League Baseball team. A molecular biophysics major at Yale, he was a decent left-handed starter for a dismal college team. But good southpaws are hard to find, and when the Anaheim Angels selected him in the twenty-first round of the 2002 draft, Mc
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Viking Adult (first published 2009)
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The Legend of Mickey Tussler by Frank NappiOdd Man Out by Matt   McCarthySophomore Campaign by Frank NappiIntangibles by Geoff   MillerWild and Outside by Stefan Fatsis
Best Minor League Baseball Books
2nd out of 21 books — 20 voters
Taking Shots by Toni AleoFalling for the Backup by Toni AleoEmpty Net by Toni AleoTrying to Score by Toni AleoBlue Lines by Toni Aleo
Best Sports Books
66th out of 192 books — 153 voters

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Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
In the 2002 ML baseball draft, Matt McCarthy, a Yale lefty with a fastball that had occasional familiarity with 90+mph was drafted in the 26th round by the Anaheim Angels. He was urged by friends and relations to keep a journal of his experiences, and those journals form the basis of this 2009 story of his single season in the sun of professional baseball.

When the book came out, there was a bit of a firestorm. McCarthy got some of his names, dates, and possibly facts wrong enough that the New Yo
There's a lot of criticism of this book for time/place/statistical mistakes -- most of which read something like "McCarthy describes this happening on July 15 but so-and-so didn't join the team until July 30." To place this criticism in the context of the book, first of all, I don't think the author makes a single reference to a specific date of a game in the whole book -- so fact checkers FIRST have to figure out what date McCarthy is IMPLYING something occurred and THEN they can tell us all it ...more
Like most of Matt McCarthy's teammates on the Provo Angels minor league team where he spent one season, I'm sick and tired of Ivy League bullshit.

A dude pitches on a losing team at Yale, gets drafted in like the 25th round and then writes a book about his one season playing minor league ball. What's remarkable about McCarthy's book is not the casual entrenched racism and homophobia that is middle America's stock in trade - because who is shocked that every asshole in this country hates fags and
Michael Nye
Odd Man Out is a memoir of one man's year in the minor leagues. McCarthy pitched for Yale and then was drafted in the 21st round by the Anaheim Angels and assigned to their Provo club out of spring training. Hilarity ensues.

The writing is solid; nothing groundbreaking but no cliches either. McCarthy is charming, smart, and observant, witnessing all his teammates flaws and strengths without sentimentality. There are tons go great anecdotes here, and certainly dozens more had to be left out, but t
I don't usually have three books on the go at once. But, I picked this up off a bargain book rack, started to read it in the doctor's waiting room, and can't seem to put it down.

An inside look at the life of a minor league baseball season, the author's one and only. Matt McCarthy was drafted in the 21st round by the Angels and assigned to their rookie league affiliate in Provo, Utah. Baseball is a tough business, ruled by the numbers, from your draft position, to your batting average or, if a pi
An interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying read. It is the story of a minor league pitcher who lasts just over one year in the minors. There are a lot of behind the scenes stories about the lives (on field and off) of the players on his minor league team. There was some controversy when then book came out about some of the stories in the book, but I don't know how anyone could be that shocked about the antics of young, uneducated, sexed- up young men living thousands of miles away from home in ...more
Oct 20, 2014 Pete rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009, usa
Matt McCarthy reminds me of Paul Shirley. Neither seems to realize how cocky they come off, and neither can write nearly as well as they think they can. The problem with being a semi-literate pro-athlete is that, relative to your peers, you seem like Shakespeare, but to the rest of us, you write as well as the average blogger.
Other notes:
Probably the only baseball book to begin a chapter with a "The Waste Land" reference.
The Bobby Jenks anecdotes are entertaining but not surprising.
I read this
Tim Basuino
Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” remains the best expose of a baseball season I have read to date. Part of what made that book so intriguing was the fact that it was essentially the first of its type – Bouton’s description of the 1969 Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros took the nation (if not the world) by storm – up to that point the general idea was that ballplayers generally toed the company line, and were generally unable to think for themselves. To put it mildly, “Ball Four” altered that perception. ...more
I really liked this book and (unfortunately) found out some (crude) locker room stories about some of my favorite baseball players who made it to the big leagues. Hmm…..I guess even the famous athletes do stupid things when they are very young!

I really enjoyed this story which provides a behind the scenes look at what life is like for young Major League wannabes. I liked going into it already knowing that the author has a great future after his year in the minors (it's on the book jacket so not
I thoroughly enjoyed McCarthy's The Real Doctor will See you Now, and I enjoyed this one just as much. After graduating from Yale, McCarthy was drafted in the 26th round by the Angels and heads out for a year on their farm team, the Provo Angels. A left-handed pitcher, he struggles game to game, as well in the unique environment that is minor league baseball. I loved learning more about how the whole system operates, the grinding schedule they play, the small towns and stadiums they call home, t ...more
I really enjoyed this book. As a kid I had dreams of becoming a big leaguer. Now as I look back on my life I'm sure glad I never had to go crawl through the minor league wasteland. I think that this books offers a glimpse into the reality that a lot of guys face. Being away from their families, lots of temptation to live a crazy life, an attitude of self importance, meanwhile getting little recognition, little pay and grim hopes of ever advancing to anything meaningful.

I suppose I appreciate th
Gary Braham
I love the idea of baseball more than I love actually watching or playing the game myself. I can't remember the last time I actually sat through a full 9 inning game. My average seems to be about 4-6 if I go to see my HS team or local summer league team play. But I really do enjoy reading about baseball, and there were a few angle of interests here. We had actually considered being a host family one summer, and I'm also Mormon, so I was interested in hearing the players take on playing in Provo. ...more
Really interesting perspective on life in the minor leagues.
(how often do you really use the "it was amazing!" rating?)

Baseball time so a baseball book and as far as baseball books go, this was a very good one. Matt McCarthy gives a very honest and transparent memoir of the life of a major league baseball player that we don't get to see. For all the glamor and glitz of the big leagues here is what goes on for years sometimes for those who have the dream of making it to the big club. McCarthy does an excellent job of retelling a year in the life of a mino
This is an entertaining book that documents a year on the road with the Provo Angels minor league baseball team. It was written by Matt McCarthy who pitched for and graduated from Yale before he was drafted by the Angels in the 26th round, and then he spent one year playing for Provo before being cut the following year in spring training. McCarthy is a gifted writer which is not always the case for the pro athlete turned author.

Despite my compliments and high rating, I often felt uncomfortable
Found this on the new books shelf at the public library and decided it looked interesting without have heard anything about it. Since I "really like it" while I was reading it, I give it four stars. Now I read that there are many complaints from fellow players who alleged inaccuracies - enough so that an article appeared in the New York Times describing them (and the author's defense). If I had known about that before I read it, it would have been more difficult to enjoy. So I don't know that I ...more
Tom Gase
Didn't like this book that much basically because except for maybe one character, who the reader doesn't meet until the end, you hate everyone. All the athletes are racist, homophopic and just plain dumb. This includes the writer. Well, maybe he's not dumb since he went to Yale, but you end up not liking him at all. For one, all the facts are wrong I guess, since there has been a lot of controversy around it. Also, he calls someone else a mole in the book, although HE'S DOING THE SAME EXACT THIN ...more
This is basically a modern version of Ball Four, but set in the low levels of the minor leagues. Ball Four was groundbreaking at the time it was written, but the stories and characters in it were pretty tame compared to the ones in this book.

I am a little conflicted about the author's use of the actual names of his teammates and coaches. On one hand, the stories were more entertaining when I recognized the names of its subjects. However, McCarthy had to betray a lot of trust from those teammates
*sigh* Another mediocre minor league baseball memoir. I've gotta learn to stop reading these. The idea is fascinating — a Ball Four-style account of a year in the low minors from a Yale grad who, after he left baseball, ultimately went on to Harvard Medical School and a career as a physician (thereby validating the "misfit" claim of the title, given the anti-intellectual culture that seems largely endemic to a career in the game). But the execution is fairly flat... while McCarthy is a reasonabl ...more
I'm a baseball nut and have covered minor league baseball in the past, so this one was of extra special interest. I love these first-person stories about life in the low minors and what people did to get through it. Long bus rides, crappy food, low pay and not knowing what their lives will be like in the future.

The life of a minor leaguer isn't easy. Matt McCarthy takes us through one year in the minors -- his lone year in professional baseball -- in Provo, Utah. From getting drafted, to signin
Nancy Kennedy
Yale graduate Matt McCarthy is your guide to the minor leagues in this book that chronicles his year as a pitcher with the Angels organization, playing in Provo, Utah.

The schedule is alternately grueling and mind-numbingly boring. Coaching styles careen between gentle paternalism and obscenity-spewing mania. Players are foul-mouthed, hormonally overcharged and undereducated teenagers, and a racial divide splits the team down the middle. Camaraderie and professionalism are in short supply. "Nothi
I find autobiographical sports stories very hit or miss for the most part, but McCarthy hits the mark perfectly in Odd Man Out.

Unlike many authors in this genre, McCarthy steers clear of both eye roll-inducing self-aggrandizement and dull statistically-driven ramblings.

His account of his brief time in minor league baseball paints a quirky, charming and realistic picture of what's it's like to play professional baseball at its lowest level. His witty, captivating account of his turn in the mino
Jamie Bradway
I kind of loved this, really. It's close to a five star book, but for a bit of nagging distraction.

I am a fan of baseball, especially the local minor league team, the Durham Bulls. So I loved getting the perspective of a player going through a farm system. It's also well-written and perfectly paced. I was invested in the successes and failures of McCarthy and his team, the Provo Angels. Surprised at how grueling that schedule is and the toll it takes on a struggling player.

This insight is almost
"Odd Man Out" makes clear the virtues associated with being good at two things.

Matt McCarthy's is an autobiographical account of a Yale grad with a scientific bent and the good fortune of being a southpaw.

The fact of his left-handed birth limited the competition for pitching slots nationwide. It paved the way for McCarthy to play at Yale and later be drafted by the Los Angeles Angels Baseball Club.

The dynamic here is simple and effective. A young and cerebral son of old Ivy is tossed into the
I enjoyed this vignette of the minor league experiences of a Yale graduate. McCarthy's style is pedestrian (not meant as a cut) and allows the casual reader to get sucked into the life of an aspiring major league baseball player. At first, I had a difficult time "reading" into the author's descriptions of his own actions and dialogue with others...was he playing with others, keeping his own views private while secretly expressing amusement at others' naivete or different world views from his own ...more
A friend recommended "Odd Man Out" by Matt McCarthy and I enjoyed reading this fairly transparent look into the world of minor league baseball. I agree with many of the other reviewers that Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" was more in depth, honest, and humorous but it probably wasn't McCarthy's intention to better or even equal Bouton's book.

In many ways I found this book to be a coaching character study of the Provo Angles' coach, Tom Kochman. I have played for and coached with people like Kochman an
Jennifer Arnold
Matt McCarthy was an Ivy League pitcher on a losing Yale baseball team and a biophysics major (and probably the only minor leaguer doing genetic research during the off season) drafted in the 26th round by the Angels only because he was a left-handed pitcher (fastest way to the Show, as they say). The book chronicles his brief and harldly brilliant baseball career in the minors with the Provo Angels.

Growing up in a town with a minor league team (the Dunedin Blue Jays - who ate at the same hole-
Dustin Gaughran
This is another great look at life inside minor league baseball (which I'm inexplicably fascinated with). This time it's told from the point of view of a man that doesn't actually need baseball, as he is a Yale graduate that eventually goes on to a future in medicine. He's none the less a competitor, though, wanting to make it to the bigs. The story covers his last year in college, and his first year in the minors. Baseball die hards should enjoy this. I did.
Being avidly interested in baseball in general and pitching in particular saved this book for me. It's easy to overlook the minor leagues; they don't have the cachet or flair of the majors. McCarthy seems to admit as much, with his constant name-dropping. But he shows the minors as they are: the intensely competitive, high pressure, make-or-break atmosphere.

If he's rather mouthy about who he met along the way, he's refreshingly candid about his own skill, never hyping himself or posturing as the
Sam Choi
Entertaining very quick read (1 business trip). The book is about a guy who barely makes it into the minors, and spends one season with the single A team. It's reasonably well-written, and while the characters are not particularly well-developed, a couple of them are memorable. The interesting thing about the story is not the characters, or even the story itself (the team is reasonably successful, but there's hardly a climax), but the little observations, quirks, and light analysis of life as a ...more
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Matt McCarthy is an assistant professor of medicine at Cornell and a staff physician at Weill Cornell Medical Center. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Slate, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Deadspin, where he writes the Medspin column.
More about Matt McCarthy...
The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician's First Year

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