Confessions of a Conscientious Man

Bruce Winkworth was browsing through the baseball books in a used book store near his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, when he saw a cover photo of what looked like Steve Bilko. “After moving my gaze several inches upwards, I saw the title: The Bilko Athletic Club. That was it for me. I had to have that one.”

Bruce Winkworth

Bruce Winkworth and his $8 book.

In an e-mail to author Gaylon White, Winkworth describes himself as “a nearly typical 62-year-old American male” who grew up collecting records, comic books and baseball cards. “Thanks to baseball cards, I developed an early interest in the golden age of minor league baseball, the 1940s and ’50s. The backs of baseball cards were an absolute treasure trove of useless information, especially the minor league statistics, when Topps decided to use them.”

Winkworth and his brother “knew all about Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in 1927. Our father told us many times of Jimmie Foxx hitting 58 homers in 1932 and Hank Greenberg matching that with 58 in 1938. No one ever bothered to tell us, however, that Steve Bilko hit 55 homers for the Angels in the PCL in 1956….

“I bought your book and started it last night. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, but I can tell it’s going to be my favorite book of the summer. I love books like yours but never expect to stumble across one, so when I do, it’s definitely a big deal.”

Bilko’s 1955 Topps baseball card

Bilko’s 1959 Topps baseball card

In opening the book, Winkworth “could tell by the crackling sound the cover made that whoever sold it to the used book store hadn’t bothered to read it.” When White’s business card fell out, he realized it was a review copy.

“Now I feel bad. I paid $8 for your book, of which you won’t see one dime. On top of that, you sent this copy to some writer somewhere on the good faith that that writer would read it and hopefully write a good review. And clearly neither will happen. None of that’s my fault, of course, but it’s good to have a conscience.”

Winkworth has a blog and a plan. “When I finish your book, I promise to write a detailed review – and based on what I’ve read so far I’m pretty sure it will be a very positive review – and publish it on my blog, which in turn will be seen by several close family members before dying in cyberspace.

Steve Bilko_1952_Topps“If you go to the blog now, you’ll notice that I haven’t posted anything since my best friend died at the end of April,” Winkworth adds. “That cut down on the inspiration pretty thoroughly for a time, but I’m starting to feel the itch again, and I credit part of that to finding your book.”

Winkworth is a man of his word, snapping out of his writing funk with a book review as good as anything you’ll read in the New York Times.  Click on the following link to read what he has to say about his bargain find: http://theunofficialscorer.blogspot.com/2014/07/book-review-bilko-athletic-club.html

***********************************

The Bilko Athletic Club is a book published by Rowman & Littlefield about the 1956 Los Angeles Angels, a team of castoffs and kids built around a bulky, beer-loving basher of home runs named Steve Bilko. The book features a delightful foreword by John Schulian, former sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Daily News and longtime contributor to Sports Illustrated and GQ. The book can now be ordered by clicking on any of the website links below:

For Baseball Fans Down Under:

For Fans in the UK:

For Fans in Taiwan: