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Response to "Stealing Lives"

Following our March 15th conversation with David Fidler about the book he co-authored, "Stealing Lives," Professor Alan Klein of Northeastern University e-mailed Only A Game to let us know that "Stealing Lives" was perhaps not all it appeared to be. Here's Professor Klein's comment on the book:

Dear Bill Littlefield:

I usually enjoy ONLY A GAME very much. The segment you did on the Marcano and Fidler book, "Stealing Lives," however, was disturbing.

As an author dealing with MLB in Latin America, I have been researching the Dominican Republic for 15 years,
chronicling the changes that have taken place there since 1987. Mr. Fidler has correctly pointed the finger at the Chicago Cubs organization for shoddily treating Alexi Quiroz. That was the mid 1990s, however, and that was the Cubs. Had they tried to write a book about that, I doubt very much they'd have found a publisher; but by making it an industry-wide 'expose' they garner interest.

The book is purely sensationalist, poorly researched, and shockingly irresponsible. No one in the Dominican Republic knows them (I've asked all manner of people in the industry down there). To the best of my knowledge, they have never been there. No one in Major League Baseball (and I'm researching a series of teams and the Commissioner's Office) knows them. They have culled already published data, much of it dated (including my own work); excerpted what fits their thesis, ignored all else. They have, with the exception of Quiroz, no new data. They are completely ignoring changes that have been made since about 1999. The emotional appeal of such a work is understandable: hapless victim of a large institution; but there is no substitute for meticulous research (and the larger the claim the better the work should be). This book is worthy of being published by the National Inquirer, and no responsible baseball scholar familiar with Latin America would support this kind of work!


Alan Klein
Professor of Sociology-Anthropology
Northeastern University

ps. I published "Sugarball: The American Game, The Dominican Dream" (Yale Univ. Press, 1991) which the two above mentioned authors quoted when it appealed to them. Also, "Baseball on the Border: A Tale of Two Laredos" (Princeton Univ. Press 1997); currently finishing "Growing the Game: Baseball and Globalization (Yale Univ. Press). The latter is based on first hand work carried out in seven countries since 2000, involving original research at all levels (from Commissioner's Office to big and small market teams in countries the world over.

This program aired on March 22, 2003. The audio for this program is not available.

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