Item description for Pouring Six Beers at a Time: And Other Stories from a Lifetime in Baseball by Jayson Stark Bill Giles...
Bill Giles is a baseball lifer who grew up in ballparks while his father oversaw the Cincinnati Reds and later the entire National League. Young Giles learned that the game was meant to be fun, and he's done more to make it that way over the past five decades than just about anyone else. From the forgotten minor league towns to the big-league clubs in Houston and Philadelphia, Bill Giles spent all of his waking hours dreaming up ways to make the game more enjoyable. Pouring Six Beers at a Time is his humorous and poignant recollection of how he did just that.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Pouring Six Beers at a Time: And Other Stories from a Lifetime in Baseball?
starts strong, ends long Dec 6, 2008
I had heard that Giles' bio was a surprisingly decent read, so despite my revulsion for the man's baseball acumen, I gave it a try when I found it at a library book sale recently. And the first half of it was pretty good. Even though I'm a Phillies fan, I found the section concerning the origins of the Houston Colts/Astros to be the most informative and entertaining part of the book. Giles' descriptions of some of his own backfired promotions in his early days with the Phillies were also pretty amusing. However, Giles then leads the reader through a rather dull chronology of his tenure with the Phillies and lends very little insight along the way, other than the processes which enabled him to sign Pete Rose and buy the team from the Carpenters in 1981. I have to think that even readers who aren't Phillies fans know most everything Giles spends pages and pages hashing out, especially the game-by-game synopses of the 1980 and 1993 post-seasons. Moreover, Giles unfortunately becomes very selective in his revelations, not allotting so much as a word of space to address the allegations of steroid use among the '93 team, and even more egregiously, avoiding the topic altogether in his section on rating the commissioners while seeing fit to heap all sorts of undue praise upon Bud Selig - who just so happened to return the favor with a promotional blurb on the cover. As another reader mentioned, there was also no mention about Bill Campbell amongst all his gushing over Ashburn and Kalas. The negligence goes on: a passing mention of the fact that a barren farm system led to the organization's rapid decline after he got ahold of the reins, with no connection made or responsibility accepted for his role in that failure. An abrupt halt of the Phillies chronology after 1993, after which the team wouldn't see post-season daylight for fourteen years. In contrast to his giddy details of inheriting the ballclub, there is scant information revealed about the forced concession of his CEO title in 1997. Giles goes on to say that this ousting led to his focus on the Phillies getting a new ballpark, for which he very pridefully claims credit. Indeed, Giles' accomplishments in the game mainly consist of matters outside the field of play. Selling tickets and promotions has always been Giles' priority, and something he has done indisputably well - but not something which qualified him to achieve the dream he so desired, of overseeing the operations of a baseball franchise. He remains wholly oblivious to this fact even while his book plainly screams it.
Baseball, Marketing, and a Commentary on the Times Jun 12, 2008
Bill Giles has written a baseball autobiography that can speak to even non-baseball fans. When it comes to Marketing, this man is definitely an "out-of-the-box" thinker who was willing to (and did) try anything to put people into stadium seats. This book tells the tale of a boy who was basically raised in a baseball stadium and how his entire life has been devoted to America's greatest pasttime, eventually becoming the owner of the Philadelphia Phillies. It is also a loving tribute to his father, Warren Giles, former President of the Cincinnati Reds and also President of the National League). Bill was astute enough to realize early that his talents were not on the field; instead, his business knowledge and creative intuition helped make him a key player in the marketing and management of the Philadelphia Phillies. Along the way, Giles was instrumental in getting the Houston Astrodome built; one of the many interesting stories told here. Astroturf was in its infancy, and Giles relates how it was put on the map by its use at the Astrodome.
Giles is very frank and upfront in his opinions, but never stoops to a tabloid tell-all style. Some of my favorite sections of the book discuss the camaraderie of the Phillies and how they worked their way up to the World Series. There is also a section on the economics of the game, and how salaries and expenses have changed over the years, and what lead to superstar salaries.
For fans of the game, the book is filled with anecdotes about your favorite players (Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt), the Commissioners of Baseball (and Giles rates 'em like a report card!), and some of the more nailbiting games that the Phillies played throughout their checkered past. For non-fans, Giles gives plenty of reasons here for earning the nickname The P.T. Barnum of the Major Leagues: The Phillie Phanatic, Kiteman, Cannon Man, The Flying Wallendas...all were part of his filling up Veteran's Stadium even when the home team wasn't playing so well. Some fun stories about Ted Turner and Ray Kroc (McDonald's) are also included. Giles is definitely a family man, and his love for his wife and children definitely comes through in the section about them.
HIGHLY recommended for all. An interesting and easy read.
Baseball lifer smacks a triple Oct 28, 2007
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. Perhaps it is because of the diverse experiences that Bill Giles shares. Giles, former owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, spent more than 50 years in the game. The son of Warren Giles, former president of the Cincinnati Reds and the National League, Bill worked for the Reds, Astros and Phillies.
The first half of the book, particularly Giles' stint as the public relations director with the Houston Astros under owner Judge Hofheinz, was very interesting. I tended to forget how the Astrodome helped to change baseball and the features it introduced to the game. Baseball was much different when the Astrodome opened in 1965.
Although much of the second half of the book will be very familiar to Phillies fans, I thought Giles was fairly honest in his appraisal of players, trades, clubhouse atmosphere, and events. Phillies fans will enjoy Giles' account of the playoffs and World Series as well as his remembrance of players.
Giles says Mike Schmidt wouldn't have made a good manager; that he fired Phillies manager Pat Corrales because he hated all of his players; that releasing Steve Carlton was the toughest thing he ever had to do; and Astros manager Paul Richards had a questionable moral compass.
Commits the worst sins of a memoir Aug 22, 2007
As a lifelong baseball man, Bill Giles had the chance to write something profound, something with the depth and insight of 70+ years living and breathing the game. To open it and discover instead a book that barely glances off the surface of history is a disappointment.
Reading Giles' account of his life is a lot like listening to your grandfather - sure, there are interesting anecdotes occasionally, but they're atolls in an ocean of cliche and vagueness.
At its best, it's readable, like when Giles talks about his scoreboard antics with the Astros. At its worst, it's a sloppy, directionless mess, punctuated by boring, PR-release-style photos, random lists of things like his Top 10 Baseball Moments, all of which we could've guessed from how he'd already talked about them, and narrative-destroying paragraphs of statistics.
And insight? Well, if you were looking for interesting moments from his time with the Colt .45s/Houston Astros and his efforts to do wacky stuff as promotions guy with the Phillies, there's a bit of all that. But controversy? A capsule of how things felt sweating out the '80 World Series win and the '93 World Series loss? Forget about it. For the most part, Giles writes as though baseball is all good times, and avoids delving into the real difficulties - the down times between '80 and '93 and after, the disastrous moves the team made under GM Ed Wade - and even manages to write off the '94 strike in just a few sentences.
Throw in a random dissertation on baseball economics that completely derails what narrative there was, whole chapters devoted to passing looks at his favorite team owners and baseball commissioners, and the book just collapses under its own weight, lifeless, dull and nearly unreadable.
a must for any phillies fan Jul 6, 2007
A wonderful book, filled with stories of Bill Giles' lifetime in baseball. Baseball fans in general will enjoy it, Phillies fans in particular will love it.
I had the opportunity to recently hear Bill Giles talk about his book, and here's an interesting tidbit (or errata): he writes in the book that George W. Bush could be the next commissioner of baseball. He said that he wrote those words over a year ago, and he's not of the same opinion now with the sharp decline of the President's approval rating.
In any case, if you like baseball stories, I think you'll like this book.