SPORTS & RECREATION

The Saga of Sudden Sam: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Sam McDowell

Rowman & Littlefield Mar. 2022. 200p. ISBN 9781538156414. $26.95. SPORTS
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In this first book, former pro baseball pitcher McDowell tells his rise and fall, both on and off the mound. A six-time American League All Star for the hapless 1960s Cleveland Indians, McDowell was known for his 100-mph fastball. Off the pitch, McDowell writes, he was struggling with alcohol addiction, and his personal and professional life spiraled out of control until episodic behavioral rages cut short his promising career. However, McDowell’s story does not end there, and he describes eventually finding his way to rehab and sobriety. Afterward, in an attempt to better understand his past behavior, McDowell studied psychology. He would eventually, in the 1980s, become one of the first sports psychologists, giving his career in professional athletics had a second life. McDowell’s book is a memoir as well as a cautionary tale of addiction and its effects, particularly in Major League Baseball. McDowell also warns that an individual might not be able to handle their emotional scars without professional help.
VERDICT A personal account that is especially recommended for readers who want to understand the consequences of addiction and how to overcome it. McDowell’s story will find an audience beyond baseball fans.
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