As Jim Kaat gets ever closer to his Hall of Fame induction this summer, more and more people are learning about his story.
Kaat made sure of that when he released his latest memoir, “Good as Gold: My Eight Decades in Baseball,” this month. The book, published by Triumph, is his third.
“I was quite pleasantly surprised. I was amazed at how many people actually read it,” Kaat said. “Over the past few years, many of my friends in the game have told me that I should write a book about my experiences over the years because my career would span eight decades. There aren’t many baseball players whose career spanned eight decades.
Baseball fans around the world will get a closer look at Kaat’s career, as well as his upbringing in Zeeland. From her first home to her first job, Kaat gives more details than ever about her hometown in a national publication.
Kaat talks about his road to Cooperstown and also talks about his family more than he has in previous posts.
“When the Hall of Fame announcement and subsequent activities came out, we were just finishing the book. I thought how important it was to be brought up in a community in Zeeland and to have parents like me,” Kaat said. “These thoughts have become increasingly important. You don’t accomplish these things on your own.
And Kaat has achieved a lot in his 25-year career as a player. After pitching for Hope College for one season, the left-handed pitcher won 283 games and 16 Gold Glove Awards as the top outfielder at his major league position, mostly with the Minnesota Twins. He also played for the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals, where he was part of the 1982 World Series championship 40 years ago.
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Kaat went on to become one of baseball’s top broadcasters after his playing career, winning an Emmy Award in the process.
It all adds up to parts of eight decades in the majors. He began his career in 1959 and continues to broadcast games for MLB Network.
Along the way, Kaat has seen several major changes to the game, including pitch counts and game-changing analytics. Many of these changes don’t care about Kaat, and he discusses several of them in the book.
“I wanted to talk about the game and how it has changed. Likes and dislikes, and unfortunately dislikes outweigh likes,” Kaat said. “It saddens me especially for pitching to see the talent, which is far superior to those who pitched in my time (to be affected by the number of pitches). Good baseball players who know the pitch allow that to happen. This throw matters and everyone is worried about the arm, when you need your legs to be strong enough to throw (longer). They won’t make the most of it.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to see (Max) Scherzer and (Clayton) Kershaw go nine against each other?”
Kaat has seen at least a generation of fans lose interest in games that take too long due to constantly changing pitchers and long TV commercial breaks between innings.
“There is an overuse of analytics. If they let them play instead of turning them into robots,” Kaat said. “I would like to see them go seven innings and soften the ball. After 2.5 hours people think of leaving. Even my grandsons. My eldest is 25 years old. He loves baseball. But even tells him that it’s not as attractive as before.
“It’s such a great game, I hate to see it run the way it has.”
Kaat never has a problem sharing his opinion on a subject, and he discusses it extensively in the book, including how he and the players of his day didn’t talk enough about segregation and racism in the game and the society.
“Looking back, I wonder why I wasn’t bold enough to talk about what segregation was doing to black people,” Kaat wrote in the book. “Shame on all of us for not getting up earlier and saying it was wrong.”
This was part of the section of the book titled “My Likes and Dislikes”.
One of the most interesting stories in the book is when Kaat and Dick Allen discussed racehorses and even went to see Secretariat.
“Once I was traded to Chicago, I had never met Dick. When we became teammates, we started talking about who taught us the game. baseball who was supposed to be a pitcher. Dick liked that I worked fast and threw strikes. I knew he loved racehorses. We started talking about horses and it really clicked,” Kaat said. “It goes back to when I watched harness racing at the Ionia County Fair. We had a few stables and we have always been interested in them. I went to a few Kentucky Derbys and met Bill Parcells in Saratoga. I have always appreciated it.
And fans will enjoy this boundless look at Kaat’s eight decades in gaming.