Out of the Park

Memoir of a Minor League Baseball All-Star

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About the Book

During the Golden Age of baseball, as many as 59 minor leagues operated in a single season, and hundreds of G.I.s returning home from World War II competed in them for the big break that would land them one of only 400 spots on 16 teams in the majors. These were truly the days when athletes played purely for the love of the game, motivated by goals that seemed always just beyond their fingertips. Among the many men who endured shocking extremes in pursuit of that diamond-plate dream was first baseman Ed Mickelson. This book relates the entirety of his 11-year struggle against the odds of success. A talented athlete from his early youth, Mickelson followed the game he loved across continental America, winning some and losing some, but always persevering. While a recruit for Lynchburg in the Class B Piedmont League, Mickelson maintained a league-leading .393 batting average.

When traded to the Southeastern League in Montgomery, Alabama, he scaled his previous statistic to achieve an average of .417. In his first major league start, an ailing Stan Musial provided the opportunity for Ed to get one of only two hits against Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. After batting .335 and driving in 139 runs at Shreveport, Louisiana, in the Texas League, Ed was honored to become first pick among 8500 players in the Minor League draft in 1954, making him a Portland Beaver in the Pacific Coast League. This book captures the fierceness of his struggle throughout his career before the man who drove in the last run of the St. Louis Browns would eventually hand over his bat and go home. Despite his impressive statistics—the second highest batting average in the Pacific Coast League and the best fielding percentage among first basemen—Mickelson traded in professional baseball for a career of high school counseling and coaching young athletes, some becoming professionals themselves. His story is told here for veterans, scholars and fans alike, revealing first-hand the both difficult and rewarding challenges of the big game.

About the Author(s)

Retired professional baseball player Ed Mickelson was also an administrator, counselor, coach and teacher. He lives in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Ed Mickelson

Foreword by Lowell Ridenbaugh
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 54 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2889-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8279-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Lowell Reidenbaugh      1

1. The Beginning      5
2. The Rook      16
3. Pokie      22
4. The Bird-Doggers      44
5. Be a Good Soldier      59
6. The Lost Season      74
7. Around the Horn      85
8. Farewell Brownies      105
9. Gaedke’s Gardens      123
10. The Pacific Coast League      137
11. The Neon Twins      163
12. Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo      181
13. April Fool      196
14. Extra Innings      208

Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “recommended”—Library Journal
  • “unique”—The SABR Bookshelf
  • “skillfully crafted…nimbly unravels the mystery of the lure of the National Game…a keen insight on life as a pro ballplayer”—Prime Life Circuit
  • “As one of the premier minor league players of his era, Ed Mickelson’s recounting of his career is a welcome addition to the history and lore of America’s favorite sport.”—Tom Kayser, President, Texas League
  • “Ed Mickelson enjoyed three of the finest years of his career in Portland of the Pacific Coast League, and he is fondly remembered by old time Beavers fans. These pages tell the story of his career in a very lively fashion and give the reader a real feel for what it was like to be a ballplayer in the days before expansion and free agency”—Dick Beverage, President, SABR
  • Out of the Park is more than a collection of personal anecdotes, it’s an exceptional first-person history of the grit and glory of mid–20th century professional baseball from one of the good guys of the game.”—Ryan Chamberlain, Senior Communications/Media Relations Manager, SABR