David Ross has had a busy 12 months. He was a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars”, got a job as a commentator with ESPN, traveled the country for personal appearances…oh, and he did that ‘win the World Series’ thing too. With so much going on, even hardcore fans of the former Cubs backup catcher could be excused for missing the fact that in his ‘spare time’ Ross managed to write a New York Times best-selling book, “Teammate” as well.
Framing his baseball story through the lens of World Series Game 7, Ross discusses how he emerged from the ashes of being released by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 to the high of winning the 2016 World Series, and in the process becoming one of the most valuable teammates in the game and certainly the most beloved backup catcher that baseball has ever seen.
As Ross says in the book, “I realized character could be as valuable as a home run, and my behavior and that attitude helped extend my career.”
It started with a small comment from Theo Epstein, after the 2008 season. Ross had joined the Boston Red Sox after being let go by the Reds and as he and Epstein discussed his future in Boston, Epstein felt he needed to inform Ross that he had gotten a reputation around the league as a bad teammate. That was the turning point for Ross.
Part autobiography, part self-help tome and even part journal kept during the 2016 season, “Teammate” had me anxiously turning to the next page to continue Ross’s remarkable story. In fact, I read the 272 pages in a single sitting.
I may have been slightly predisposed to like the book as a diehard Cub fanatic and David Ross fan, but my affection was more than just a fan service courtesy.
On the one hand, Ross provides insight and behind-the-scenes info on some of the Cubs biggest stories of the 2016 season, from the creation of the “Grandpa Rossy” persona to the emotionally charged meeting during the Game 7 rain delay. That in and of itself gives the book a great deal of value, but it was some of the other aspects that stuck with me.
After the meeting with Theo Epstein, Ross made a conscientious effort to be the best teammate that he could be and provide any team that he was a part of with more than just his baseball talent, but also the intangible benefit that provides. Throughout the book in between the insider stories of his career and personal life Ross shows practical examples of the key things that create a good, or even bad, teammate.
Though often based with a focus towards sports, the lessons Ross teaches in “Teammate” are equally appropriate being shared in a board meeting or classroom as they are on a ball field.
“Teammate” is a great book for anyone with an interest in some of the nitty-gritty of the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs or their beloved backup catcher. Beyond that, the morals and ‘teachable moments’ make the book valuable for anyone who want to be a better part of a team, be it athletic, business-oriented or even a family. Ross proves that even at the lowest low there can be lessons to learn and a chance to achieve more than ever seemed possible.
“Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages” by David Ross and Don Yaeger is available in print and digital and earns 8/9 baseballs from Tripping Baseballs. Highly recommended.
Until next time,
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