The New York Times: It Giveth and It Taketh Away

Some authors of Holocaust, recovery, and gang-life memoirs have taken heat lately for failing to get the facts right. But, just as baseball proves again and again its ability to take the nation’s mind off weighty matters, now a baseball memoir emerges to steal the spotlight from titles such as Angel at the Fence, My Friend Leonard, and Love and Consequences. And just in time for spring training, too!

After a thorough review of Matt McCarthy’s New York Times best-seller, Odd Man Out, reporters from the New York Times (oh, the irony) have concluded that this “salacious memoir” of McCarthy’s single season as a minor-league pitcher has more holes in its story than a slugger’s sworn testimony about his own steroid use.

McCarthy at first stood by his story, then admitted his memory wasn’t perfect, then said he couldn’t help it if people disagreed with him. He cited his detailed journals as evidence of his accuracy but refused to use them to defend the accuracy of his book. The New York Times article (“Errors Cast Doubt on a Baseball Memoir,” by Benjamin Hill and Alan Schwarz) is full of passages like this:

In early July, while the broadcaster Larry King was in the stadium as the team’s special guest, the young infielder Matt Brown is depicted as being punched in the groin by King’s 8-year-old son, and then profanely threatening to kill the child. Brown is also shown chugging beers while under age and talking with McCarthy on a long mid-July bus ride to Medicine Hat, Alberta. But Brown did not report to Provo until July 30, according to Major League Baseball’s official transaction log.

I don’t like to think of myself as someone who has a cruel streak, but I do think that fact-checking a memoir could be kind of fun–kind of like literary detective work.

In other truth-related news, the disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich, or G-Rod, or perhaps DFG-Rod, has a book deal (“Rod Blagojevich Gets a Book Deal,” by Monique Garcia, Los Angeles Times). Think anyone will fact-check that one?



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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