Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher

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Book Summary: David Cone is just one of 23 pitchers to throw a perfect game. The five-time World Series champion, who now works as a commentator on the YES network, looks back at the ups and downs of his career. 

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I had a love/hate relationship with Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher. I loved many parts of the book and couldn’t wait to see what else happened next; however, when he would spend a chapter or two describing the mechanics of pitching, I was less interested.

As a devout Yankees fan, I have been watching the YES network for years, which means I’ve listened to Cone tell countless stories and analyze every pitch. However, out of the three main announcers on the network, Michael Kay, Paul O’Neill, and Cone, he is my least favourite. He is a professional in every sense of the word. However, I find his delivery to be dry and technical. He never seems to be laid-back like O’Neill and Kay, who tease each other to no end.

Thankfully my exposure to Cone on YES prepared me to listen to him narrate his book for over 15 hours. My favourite parts included the stories from the beginning of his career with the Kansas City Royals. Cone didn’t shy away from anything and laid out all the good with the bad. His most famous tale about being a major leaguer has to be when he didn’t claim his signing bonus on his taxes and had his wages garnished by the IRS, earning a $47 paycheck once. Most athletes who run into debt or legal troubles avoid the spotlight regarding the topic. Yet, Cone provided a valuable insight into a valuable life lesson. I appreciated his openness and honesty. He came across as a regular guy who just happened to be a Major League pitcher. It was eye-opening to know that he slept on the apartment floor he shared with eight teammates while making little to no money in the minors.

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Anyone who remembers Cone knows he played on several teams, which included his hometown Royals (twice), New York Mets (twice), Toronto Blue Jays (twice), Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. He was honest about his feeling regarding the trade that sent him from the Royals to the Mets in 1987. While in the Big Apple, he grew as a person and fell in love with the city that never sleeps. Those chapters had some epic stories about the shenanigans as members of the Mets, including barroom fights and locker room pranks. Cone won a CY Young on his second tour of duty with the Royals but won his first ring in Toronto. With his heart in New York, he returned to the city to pitch for the Yankees in 1995. He was a vital part of the teams which won four World Series titles in five years, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, while throwing a perfect game in 1999. On top of all his achievements in Pinstripes, Cone suffered an aneurysm which took him out of the game for a period of time. 

A whole chapter is devoted to his most iconic baseball moment, the perfect game, on July 18, 1999. Cone dives deep into the afternoon with vivid details that hit all the key spots when describing his methods through the best nine innings of his career.

For people who love to learn the technical aspect of the game and the historical evolution of pitching, this would be an intriguing read for you. I was interested in Cone’s biography, not the blueprints to throwing the perfect slider or navigating the strike zone. I’ve read a handful of biographies based on Yankees players, and this one is in a class of its own. Not only did the authors, Cone and Jack Curry, cover in great detail the career of a renowned pitcher, but Cone took the opportunity to explain the game, unlike anything I’ve read before.

Like I mentioned in the opening, I enjoyed most of the book and would probably skip over the pitching mechanics if I gave this another read. Fans of the 1990’s Yankees dynasty may enjoy the stories from the room; however, if you watch YES regularly, you’ve probably heard a lot of these stories already.


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