Review: DEEP DRIVE Mike Lowell
Posted by athomeatfenway on December 26, 2008
DEEP DRIVE, A long journey to finding the champion within. By Mike Lowell with Rob Bradford. Foreword by Josh Beckett. 256 pages. 2008. Celebra books.
This book is a great baseball story and an even better human one.
In Short – Lowell’s family are refugees from Castro, and he grows up a scrawny kid near Miami. He works his ass off, turns the skinny build into a productive one. 599 guys are drafted in front of him, but he grows into the Yankee Organization Player of the Year before being traded to the Marlins. Cancer interrupts his life TWICE. Steroid rumors swirl but do not prevail. He loses his swing. He is betrayed by money grubbers. He overcomes it all.
Lowell wins the World Series twice. Lowell becomes a World Series MVP.
Great Player. Great Teammate.
It’s a great read and you should pick it up.
Lowell’s Dad, Carlos, at age 11, escaped from Cuba to Puerto Rico. Carlos played baseball on the San Ignacio H.S. team. He played his college ball at St. Joseph’s in Philly, where he tossed a no-hitter and won the MVP Award. Carlos competed for the Puerto Rico National team.
Mike Lowell was raised in Florida where he changed High Schools when it became apparent he wouldn’t get adequate playing time while studying with the good Brothers at Christopher Columbus High School. The last two spots in the batting order of the Christopher Columbus freshman team were historic. Batting 8th and playing SS was Alex Rodriguez. Batting 9th and playing second base was Lowell.
A-Rod transferred to Westminster H.S. due to a lack of playing time and Lowell left for Coral Gables H.S. for the same reason. Imagine what Brother Herb Baker might say today about not having foreseen the potential of these future MLB All Stars. According to this book, Baker was pretty stoic about it.
Before going to Florida International with close to a full ride, Lowell was recruited by Notre Dame assistant Coach Pat Murphy, who would later coach Dustin Pedroia at Arizona State.
After developing as a second baseman throughout High school and College, Mike was selected by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the 1995 draft. He was shocked when the Yankees informed him they intended to convert him to a catcher.
They didn’t stick with that decision after seeing what great hands he had at third.
Mike had little power at first. He was underweight at Oneonta (NY Penn League) and Greensboro (A). But in 1996 and 1997 he gained 25 pounds of muscle, batting .344 for half a season in Norwich (AA) and hitting 15 Homers in half a season in Columbus (AAA). In 1998, he played 126 games for Columbus, batting .311 with 25 HR’s. Mike made his MLB debut on 9-13-98 at Yankee Stadium in front of 47,471 fans. He singled in his first at bat. Although he was the starting 3rd baseman that day, he was behind Scott Brosius on the depth chart. Still, he was the Yankees 1997 Organization Player of the Year and had a terrific 1998. Thus, before the post-season, Lowell was told he would be the 1999 starting third baseman on the Yankees, unless Brosius won the World Series MVP, an unlikely possibility…..
……and that is exactly what occurred.
Lowell was traded to his hometown Marlins on Feb. 1, 1999.
He had no objection to playing in hometown Miami.
But within a month of the trade he was diagnosed with cancer.
1999 was a rollercoaster. Traded, then diagnosed, he underwent surgery and chemo, was sent down to AAA to rehab, and was required to prove he was still major league capable in May.
By Oct. 1, 1999, Mike had batted .253 with 12 home runs in 97 games and was informed he would be a starter for the 2000 squad.
“Surviving cancer was, and always will be, my toughest battle. I laugh when people talk about how tough it is to deal with the boos of fans….when cancer comes calling, baseball takes a backseat…having 40,000 people at Yankee Stadium tell me I suck is a nice diversion.”
THE STORY OF “PAM”: Lowell clarifies why MLB players might be wary about people pretending to be friends. The story of “Pam”, a BFF of Bertica, his wife, makes the point. Friends since they were age 15, “Pam” was injured in a car accident with Bertica at the wheel during Lowell’s rookie year. At first unconscious, “Pam” recovered pretty quickly and all was well. Some months passed, and then “Pam” stopped speaking with Bertica. Suddenly, the Lowells were hit with a $1.2 Million law suit alleging pain and vision issues for “Pam”. At that point, Lowell had made $60,000 total playing 4 years of pro ball and had $7,000 in the bank. “Pam” and her attorney were stunned when Mike showed them his IRS returns. The money grubbers slunk away. They were not heard from again under after Mike signed a major contract the following year. Ultimately, they sued for $600,000 and Lowell settled for half of that to put it behind them. Unfortunately for Bertica, the emotional injury cast a shadow for two years.
THE IRON MAN SONG: Have you sat in Fenway wondering how the music dude selected Black Sabbath’s IRON MAN for Lowell’s at bats ? Turn to page 161. The story involves getting beaned in the noggin by Adam Loewen and then diving into the field boxes to make a catch in the top of the next inning.
BEING GROUNDED: Mike Lowell is a grounded individual. “I’ve always said that I play baseball but that is not who I am. That’s part of who I am. But I’d much rather be a good father, husband, friend and brother…the game is just what everyone sees, but there is so much more to me.”
As Jackie Kennedy said, “If you screw up raising your children, it really doesn’t much matter what else you achieve with the rest of your life.”
BE POSITIVE: “You can choose to harp on negativity — I certainly could have when cancer came calling, or when the hits were hard to find in 2005 – but if you choose the positive you’re going to get the most out of life. It has worked for me, and I’m not about to stop now.”
AMERICA IS A PLACE TO START AGAIN: Lowell’s family believed, achieved and overcame Communism & Cancer.
The Seattle Mariners’ Don Wakamatsu today became the first person of Asian ethnicity to be a MLB Manager, rising above a different and regrettable form of oppression.
Lowell’s Dad and Father-in-Law were victimized by Castro.
Wakamatsu’s grandparents were victims of the U.S. Government.
They lost their home and were imprisoned in a World War II internment camp.
Baseball reflects America. The good and the bad.
DEEP DRIVE is a story of family strength. It’s a good read. Tackle it and be rewarded. Red My fellow Sox fans will be rewarded to know that though we lost Teixeira to the Yankees we have retained a man of singular character and skill.