The Perfect Pitch
The Biography of Roger Owens, the Famous Peanut Man at Dodger Stadium
by Daniel S. Green
The Perfect Pitch is the biography of Roger Owens, the famous Peanut Man at Dodger Stadium. It is the true life story of the poor boy turned Peanut Man who has enchanted fans at Dodger Stadium for well over four decades. It is truly an inspiring story about Roger Owens, who grew up in an extremely poor family as the eldest of nine children and son of a Baptist minister, living on the tough inner city streets of Los Angeles.
It is a remarkable human interest story with a baseball backdrop, yet it can be enjoyed by both men and women, people of all ages, and sports fans or not. It covers the amazing life of the Peanut Man, the many miracles he and his family faced, and his rise from lowly soda vendor to premier peanut man, known for his trick peanut tossing and his career launching appearance as a guest of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Starting out at the Coliseum when the Dodgers moved West, Roger found it was a great way to bring in desperately needed income for his poor family. Over the years, he has become one of baseball's most genuine heroes, not to mention a hero for every day working people.
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1. Do you think that a sports-related biography primarily attracts male or female readers, in this day of more equal athletic participation and interest? What is it about this book that attracts the male reader? The female reader? For young readers? Older readers? Does it even matter the age or gender for this type of story? Does this book break down any barriers in this regard?
2. What is the theme(s) of this book? What events help shape your decision?
3. Can you relate with Roger? Can you relate with any of the other people in this life story? How can you relate? How do the characters, or people, make an impression on you? Are there some that stand out? Do you feel the author gave you enough insight or detail into these people or events?
4. What do you think of the author's writing style in handling such a topic as mental health as in the case of Roger's mother, Mary?
5. If you were in a foster home like the Naylor Ranch, would you have done anything differently than Roger and Philip? A home like the Worthan home? What are your impressions of the Beatty Ranch and the Beattys?
6. If you were Ross, the father, what would you have done similarly or differently with regard to your family? Your wife? Your work? Your famous, and wealthy, singer/songwriter brother Jack Owens?
7. Part of the appeal of this story is the number of issues it highlights in the lives of the Owens family. How do you think you or your family would have dealt with poverty? A very large family? Foster homes and/or abuse? A mother separated for seven years at a mental hospital? A preacher for a father? Hearing that your father was shot in a holdup but survived without more than a large bruise?
8. What is a miracle? Do you believe in miracles? Do you consider the holdup and attempted murder of Rev. Ross Owens a miracle? Do you believe that the placement of the Gospel tracts in his coat pocket was simply fortunate and nothing more?
9. How do you think Roger's family handled Roger's jeep accident? How about Roger's friends? Do you think Roger's survival was a miracle? Did the author effectively show or detail the events surrounding the accident and Roger's recovery? If so, how? If not, explain.
10. As a result of the major operations, Roger lost his sense of smell. How would you handle losing your sense of smell?
11. 1Are there examples of the author's writing, use of words, or descriptions that make this book stand out? Some have sensed a type of poetry in the writing through repetition and rhyme? Do you agree or disagree? Did you have any stereotypes about sports-related biographies before reading this book? If so, has this book's style or story helped overcome those stereotypes?
12. What do you think of the relationships Roger has had with girlfriends? Can you relate with them? What do you think about his relationship, courtship, and marriage to a girl approximately half his age? Do you feel he did the right thing? What would you have done, considering it was in the 1970's? Do you think your decision would be any different if it happened in today's society, 30 years later?
13. This book touches on quite a bit of social history, including the Depression, WWII, the 50's, Civil Rights of the 1960's, the Watts riots, the Vietnam War, and even interracial dating. It even touches on Roger's love for dogs over the years. How do these issues add to the overall story? Are there any stories in particular that stand out as poignant, funny, or noteworthy?
14. Finally, assess the biography overall. Was there anything in style or story that was compelling, captivating, interesting, lacking, incomplete, inspiring, or life changing? Why or why not? Would you recommend it to others? What will be your lasting impressions of this as a literary work and as a biography?
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"The story of a man. His life. His work. His passion. Did we mention it's about baseball as well? Combine all these elements and you have a story so moving, well written, and wonderful that if you don't already own it you're missing one of the best books written for 2004."
"Crossing the genres of sports biography, inspirational literature, sociology, family and relationship psychology, and self-help, The Perfect Pitch is an amazing and moving success story."
Independent Publisher Online
"…A delightful story of an underdog coming out on top…about real people persevering throughout the struggles of life. You can put yourself in Roger Owens' shoes and feel his excitement radiating from the pages. A moving tale with plenty of photographs, it is a fast paced and engaging story for all readers."
Gretchen Olson, BookReview.com