I got a review copy of Bob Elliot’s new book on the Blue Jays: If These Walls Could Talk, Stories from the Toronto Blue Jays dugout, locker room and press box.
I’ll say off the start that I’m a big fan of Bob Elliot. When I was first on the site, SB suggested emailing the journalists that traveled with the Jays and see if they would do an interview. So I emailed each one and I only got one reply back, Bob Elliot. He consented to do an interview with us. That was eleven years ago (time flies), here it is.
Since then, he’d occasionally comment on something we wrote and if I had a question I knew he would be the one with an answer. So I’m not an unbiased reviewer.
Anyway, the book.
The book is filled with stories about Blue Jays players, front office people, and scouts. Reading it you can tell the people that Bob liked (Jim Fregosi was one of his favorites, Pat Gillick another. Gillick wrote the foreword, gently teasing about Bob’s rather quiet voice) and ones he liked less (J.P. Ricciardi springs to mind, though he doesn’t say much about him). Honestly there are very few that you feel he doesn’t like. He seems to be able to get along with everyone.
Bob has many many stories. Sometimes in the middle of one story he’ll segue into another and it will be a bit before he gets back to the first story. They aren’t all big important stories. Some are little funny stories. The playoff years are talked about, but also the 20 some down years after the two World Series wins.
One story he tells is about Rickey Henderson taking credit for Joe Carter’s World Series winning home run:
Carter: “What are you doing? Telling everyone again how you were responsible for the game-winning homer?”
Henderson: “Look the only reason you hit the home run was because I was on second.”
Carter: “On second? You should have been on third. You led off with a walk, Devon White saw nine pitches, Paul Molitor saw 3 ad I had a 2-2 count. You had all those pitches to steal third...and you didn’t. Why not?”
Henderson: “If I’m not on second, Mitch Willialms doesn’t use the slide step because he was worried about me stealing third.”
This excerpt from If These Walls Could Talk: Toronto Blue Jays by Bob Elliott is printed with the permission of Triumph Books. For more information and to order a copy, please visit Chapters Indigo, Amazon, or www.triumphbooks.com/WallsBlueJays.
There is also great detail on the Bautista bat flip home run. But there are smaller moments. He talks about traveling with scouts. He is a fan of scouts. There is a long section on Tom Cheek, which is worth the price of the book by itself. And I really like the section on Jim Fregosi, you can tell they are close friends.
Elliot has stories on almost anyone you can name who played or worked for the Blue Jays. It is a great read. Sometimes it is a bit rambling. Often you can (almost) hear Elliot’s voice when you are reading the words. But there are a lot of stories that you haven’t heard before and some you have, but with some detail you may have forgotten.
It isn’t a long read, it is just 220 pages. You get the feeling he could have gone twice as long. I’m sure he has enough stories for another book.
I think I’m safe in saying that any Blue Jays fan would enjoy it.
Here is the full cover: