When most former major leaguers write memoirs, you wonder why they bother; with Ron Darling—Yale graduate, former New York Mets and Oakland A’s pitcher, and current Mets broadcaster—you wonder why it took him so long. The Complete Game is the best first-person ex-athlete autobio we’ve read this decade. What other former athlete could write a sentence like this even with assistance from a professional writer (Daniel Paisner): “This right here [his legendary college pitching duel against St. John’s star Frank Viola] was one of the great epiphanies for me as a competitive athlete, only it took a while for it to resonate.” Most former pitchers can’t resonate even with help. Darling, who pitched for 13 years in the big leagues, writes soulfully about coming into and leaving the game. When he finally realized it was time to pack it in—while taking a shower in the Oakland A’s clubhouse—he decided, “There’d be no champagne for me at the end of the road, just a can of domestic beer.” Our kind of guy.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009