We have some book news to pass along: Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years of the Southern League by Mark McCarter is now shipping from August Publications world headquarters.
Fans of the Southern League have seen it all since the circuit was founded over 50 years ago: colorful characters, charming ballparks, and some of the best baseball players showing their potential. From Chipper Jones and Cal Ripken, Jr. to Michael Jordan and Jose Canseco, Mark McCarter has seen them all—and tells their stories with grace, humor, and style in Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years of the Southern League.
The updated edition from McCarter, a four-time Alabama Sportswriter of the Year and four times the Southern League Writer of the Year, features his tales of the Southern League. From can’t-miss prospects like Cal Ripken, Jr. and Jose Canseco to some of the most colorful players in the minors, like Joe Charboneau, Bo Jackson, Chipper Jones, and Derrek Lee, Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years of the Southern League is a fascinating account of the people who make baseball what it is. In Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years of the Southern League, you’ll find entertaining tales like these:
- The legend of Jose Canseco begins in Huntsville, as he goes from a skinny kid in the 1984 Cal League to a bulked-out specimen in 1985, winning league MVP with 25 homers and 80 RBI in just 58 games
- The enduring charms of America’s oldest professional ballpark, Rickwood Field, including how native son Charlie O. Finley brought minor-league baseball back to Birmingham in 1964—while making his Barons the first integrated pro-sports team in Alabama, stocking the team with players like John “Blue Moon” Odom and Reggie Jackson
- Jim Bouton discusses his final run at the game, pitching for the 1978 Savannah Braves before a last stint with the Atlanta Braves
- The only time a .202 hitter made a huge impact on any pro league: When Michael Jordan joined the Birmingham Barons in 1984 and immediately lifted the league’s bottom line and boosted Minor League Baseball’s profile
- Cal Ripken, Jr. practically grew up in the Southern League, working as a bat boy for the Asheville Orioles when his father managed the team and later believing in himself as a pro player in 1980 for the Charlotte Orioles.
- Joe Charboneau’s meteoric career was highlighted by a 1979 batting crown with the Chattanooga Lookouts and an American League Rookie of the Year award in 1980—and entertaining reporters every step of the way with antics like opening a beer bottle with his eye socket and sewing a gash in his own arm with fishing line
Mark McCarter is a former sports reporter and columnist who began covering the Southern League in 1976 for the Chattanooga News-Free Press. He is the author of Pandamonium: Engineering Pro Baseball’s Return to the Rocket City, the story of the Rocket City Trash Pandas’ arrival in north Alabama, to be published in the fall of 2020 by August Publications. A four-time Alabama Sportswriter of the Year and four times the Southern League Writer of the Year, he lives in Huntsville with his wife Patricia. He has been inducted into the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame and the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame, a bittersweet honor when he learned it was for his writing—not for having led the Brainerd Dixie Youth League in home runs in 1966.