Baseball Lifetime Memoir by Dave Baldwin, Snake Jazz
Dave Baldwin
Baseball Memoir by Dave Baldwin, Snake Jazz
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About Snake Jazz, a major-league baseball memoir by Dave Baldwin
Introduction and excerpts of baseball memoir Snake Jazz by Dave Baldwin
About David Baldwin
Baseball Paradoxes
Dave's Numbers
Major-league baseball photo gallery
Contact Dave Baldwin


MLB NEWS FEED

Bradley robs Davis of HR with leaping grab
Olson stretches home run streak to 5 games
Maddon honored by Rays in return to St. Pete
Bryce takes to basepaths, plays in sim game
Dress for October: Get postseason gear
Waino activated from DL; Gyorko returns to field
Pedroia should return to lineup Wednesday
Severino moved up to start finale vs. Twins
Contreras, Russell not ready for 9 innings
Ferrell feels OK, lucky after taking liner to head
Milwaukee's hopes still brewin'
The 12 unlikeliest MVP Award winners
Today's starting lineups: Sept. 19
Cespedes' offseason will focus on running
Explaining possible postseason tiebreakers
Choo on track to achieve goal of no DL stints
Big characters up for Personality of the Year Award
Arrieta says he'll return Thursday vs. Crew
Altuve given Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Half whiffs: Kimbrel posting historic K rate
No two ways about it: Ohtani one of a kind
Moran rejoins Astros for end of regular season
Indians top Power Rankings for second week
Ziegler nearing return; O'Grady activated
Cotton still has a chance to make his next start
Braves get go-ahead for new spring facility
Smith a contender for Red Sox 'pen in playoffs
Dodgers want more quality ABs from Grandal
Hamilton (thumb) frustrated he's still inactive
Hats on: Neris will continue to wear filthy cap
55th Stanton HR a beauty beside sculpture
Deadline revisited: Which GMs hit a home run?
Rosario misses 2nd game with gastroenteritis
Tummy, rake: Philly pitcher nabs liner to belly
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called a play named for his buddy, Clayton Kershaw
FFinal FFour of 'Funnest Player' tourney
Judge homers, Yanks top Twins on 5-out save
Sox give extra effort vs. O's, stay 3 games up
Philly slam sinks Kershaw after inside-park HR
J.D.'s incredible season hidden in plain sight
Twins, Red Sox are top out-making outfields
Fantasy411 Podcast: Investing in Hoskins
Voting begins for Esurance MLB Awards
Crew improves standing with shutout of Bucs
Road to the Postseason: Sept. 19
MLB, Camping World announce multi-year partnership
Freddie Freeman dressed as Willy Wonka for his 1-year-old son Charlie's birthday
Padres pounce early, hold on to deny D-backs
Judge belts 44th HR, continues to rule at home
MLB.TV now just $3.99 for rest of season
Managers Postgame: Girardi discusses pitching
Key hits, clutch relief behind 'extra' success
Dodgers open with back-to-back HRs in Philly
Santana hopes for chance vs. Yanks in October
Don Orsillo and the Padres broadcast team had too much fun during Hunter Renfroe's at-bat
Pedroia day to day with nasal contusion
Olson hits No. 22, homers in 4th straight game
Which hitting prospects boosted stock in 2017?
Overpowering Twins, Aroldis bails out Betances
Corbin stung by SD again during hot stretch
Syndergaard back on mound, eyes a return
Justin Turner's doppelganger was spotted at the Phillies game, then Turner hit a home run
Kershaw disappointed after allowing first slam
Altherr not taking slam off Kershaw for granted
Knebel shows no sign of rust in Crew's win
Beat the Streak in a Day for $5.6 million
 

Reviews

“How does it feel?  When you read Snake Jazz, you feel privileged.  You feel at every step of the way that you're reading something real and good.  From the opening sentence to the summary of lifetime statistics at the end, it's a complete and very satisfying story of one baseball life.  How does it feel?  It feels real.”  —Judy Van Sickle Johnson’s Watching the Game

“Baldwin is even more proficient with words than he was with a baseball, and his book is a pleasure to read from start to finish…Widely published in scientific circles, he has turned his analytical eye and wry sense of humor on his own career. I only wish he had added another 100 pages to the 300 or so contained in this volume.”  —Gabriel Schechter’s Never Too Much Baseball

“Gently amusing without being iconoclastic, Snake Jazz is more like Brosnan’s The Long Season and Pennant Race than Bouton’s Ball Four…and miles above what active and former players are coming out with these days.”  —Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf

baseballWhat is Snake Jazz? - The baseball term, “snake jazz”, refers to those squiggly pitches (curve, slider, screwball, etc.) that deviate from a direct path on the way to the catcher.  This could also describe the strange and sometimes amusing twists in Dave Baldwin’s progress toward the big leagues.

Destroying His Elbow 

As a skinny, awkward kid in the 1940s, Dave learned to throw under the searing Arizona sun amidst cacti and snakes.  Despite that modest beginning, his father convinced him success would come with focused hard work, and he became one of the most highly sought-after pitching prospects in the nation.  Scouts and sportswriters said he was a “natural,” “another Bob Feller.”
This seemed true enough until one day during his sophomore year in college he threw a curveball that severely damaged his arm.  All that “natural” ability went out the window.

Struggling Back

The injury would have ended his career except he couldn’t see life continuing without baseball.  Thus, he started an eight year struggle that brought about his transformation into an unorthodox but successful major league pitcher.

Meanwhile, Dave’s baseball odyssey was eventful.

  • He found a roommate who sleepwalked swinging a bat, another who chewed Gillette double-edged razor blades, and still another who was working up to a stretch in prison. 
  • He survived a burning airplane, a death-defying bus trip, epicurean brushes with the criminal underworld, a kamikaze moth, and the bullet that ripped through a taxi window in Indianapolis. 
  • He dodged tornadoes, lightning, and baseball hobgoblins.
  • He got a good look at post-Fidel Havana.

But here’s the plus side.

  • He experienced the bonding effect of minor league pranks and comedy acts.
  • He enjoyed playing baseball askew in the metaphysical whirl of Steppenwolf and the hippie generation, and he learned the irresistible attraction of Janis Joplin and the dry spitball. 
  • But best of all, he played for five seasons in the Termite Palace in Hawai’i.

Tormenting Ted

The odd adventures didn’t end once Dave made it to the major leagues.

  • He was rewarded with a Niagara Falls vacation in mid-summer.
  • He spent a season busily tormenting Ted Williams.
  • He once found himself teaching the knuckleball to Seri Indians in a remote desert village in northern Mexico. 

A Pitcher’s Pictures

Many photographs illustrate Snake Jazz. 

  • A two-year-old Dave tries to get the hang of baseball.
  • Bob Feller gives Dave some pitching instructions.
  • The weird and now extinct Sulphur Dell ballpark in Nashville.
  • Two of Dave’s Topps baseball trading cards – one, his well-known Howdy Doody impersonation and the other, a disgustingly popular card with a smiling brontosaurus on the card’s backside.
Baseball Memoir by Dave Baldwin, Snake Jazz