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Ninety Percent Mental
An All-Star Player Turned Mental Skills Coach Reveals the Hidden Game of Baseball
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In Ninety Percent Mental, Bob Tewksbury shows readers a side of the game only he can provide, given his singular background as both a longtime MLB pitcher and a mental skills coach for two of the sport’s most fabled franchises, the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants. Fans watching the game on television or even at the stadium don’t have access to the mind games a pitcher must play in order to get through an at-bat, an inning, a game. Tewksbury explores the fascinating psychology behind baseball, such as how players use techniques of imagery, self-awareness, and strategic thinking to maximize performance, and how a pitcher’s strategy changes throughout a game. He also offers an in-depth look into some of baseball’s most monumental moments and intimate anecdotes from a “who’s who” of the game, including legendary players who Tewksbury played with and against (such as Mark McGwire, Craig Biggio, and Greg Maddux), game-changing managers and executives (Joe Torre, Bruce Bochy, Brian Sabean), and current star players (Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill).
With Tewksbury’s esoteric knowledge as a thinking-fan’s player and his expertise as a “baseball whisperer”, this entertaining book is perfect for any fan who wants to see the game in a way he or she has never seen it before. Ninety Percent Mental will deliver an unprecedented look at the mound games and mind games of Major League Baseball.
Breathe. That is where this book begins, and it is where this book will end. Breathe. A concept so simple a newborn grasps it as soon as he greets the world. An act that eventually becomes so difficult an old man on his deathbed can no longer accomplish it.
In between, breath sustains life. And if you can master the art of controlling it, it can reduce blood pressure, improve sleep, maintain health, sharpen focus, improve job performance and, yes, in so many of our lives, cause stress to melt clear away like March ice on Opening Day.
Breathe. It is where we were midsummer in 2013, and Jon Lester had had it.
Around him, the Oakland Coliseum, a rapidly deteriorating ballpark that he detested, had never looked so untamable. Behind him, the first half of an inconsistently choppy season continued to clutter his mind. Ahead of him, the second half of a season that refused to produce answers appeared just as ominous.
At this point in its cracked-concrete life, the Coliseum was becoming notorious for sewage backups. Seriously. The major leagues? A plumbing system that may as well have been constructed during the California Gold Rush periodically caused toilets to back up, water to leak into both clubhouses and dugouts, and a resulting stench that could singe the hairs in your nostrils.
Breathe? Hold that thought. The Oakland Coliseum maybe isn’t the best place in the major leagues to preach this concept. Yet there I was, in my role as a mental skills coach for the Boston Red Sox, late afternoon, sitting in the dugout anyway.
The periodic sewage, the stench, the antiquated clubhouses, none of that, by the way, is why Jon Lester disliked the place. What so many outside the game don’t always understand is that every single road trip is foreign. Every field has a different look, a different view, a different background. Comfort breeds confidence, and nothing this side of health is more vital to a professional athlete than confidence.
Always, it seemed, for whatever reason, Lester was uncomfortable on the mound in the Oakland Coliseum. Every time he started a game there, the whole place just looked different.
“I don’t know what it is,” he says. “There are stadiums you get to and it never looks good. You always feel isolated. Detroit’s one of those for me. You get on that mound and nothing looks right. It just doesn’t fit you, for whatever reason. Toronto was the complete opposite. I love Toronto. I thought their mound was one of the best mounds in baseball. The way the backdrop is, it makes you feel like home plate is right there.
“Oakland was one of those places I never felt good in. I think it’s because of the [massive] foul ground. Home plate, it looks like you’re throwing to the batting cage over there. I’ve never really had good games there. So you have these different things that go through your mind when you get in these different places.”
In the previous season, Lester had limited the Athletics to just one run and four hits over 6.2 innings, striking out nine and walking just one. But the Red Sox lost 3-2. Never had a good game in Oakland? As my old manager in Minnesota, Tom Kelly, often said, “The mind is a very dangerous thing.”
On this day, there was a lot on Lester’s mind, and too much of it was diminishing returns. At 8-5 with a 4.60 ERA, 2013 in so many ways was a continuation of 2012, statistically the worst of his career: 9-14 with a career-worst 4.82 ERA. For the man who worked five and two-thirds incredibly impressive shutout innings as a rookie in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series at Colorado’s hitter-friendly Coors Field, this was foreign land, uncharted territory, a rock and a hard place he never would have imagined. Too many negatives were living rent free inside his head.
At twenty-nine and with the All-Star break waiting on the other side of the weekend, Lester was set to make his final start of the first half on Saturday night. At this point, he was certain of only one thing. What he was not going to do was step into the break without exhausting his search for solutions.
As David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and the rest of the Red Sox swung away in batting practice on this Friday afternoon, Lester looked into the dugout and spotted a potential life vest. He and I had first met in 2002, when Lester was eighteen, shortly after the Red Sox scooped him up in the second round of the draft. As part of my work with the Red Sox, I made it a point to meet as many minor-leaguers as I could as they entered Boston’s system. Just as the ball is held together with those red stitches, so, too, are the relationships in this game. They can never be tight enough.
Even with Lester now pitching for the Chicago Cubs and me having moved on to become the mental skills coach of the San Francisco Giants, he continues to speak in fond terms of our times together.
“When you’re in the minor leagues, anytime you can talk to someone who played in the majors, you feel like they’re offering something,” Lester says. “Tewks talked about different things as far as the mental side of the game, and building that relationship with him I had a trust where I could go and bounce things off of him. He’s a no-BS guy. I knew he wouldn’t pussyfoot around with me. I knew if I asked him a question, he would give me an honest answer, both on the pitching side and on the mental side. I knew I would get that from him.”
I had come to this role, a Mr. Goodwrench for the mind, if you will, after thirteen years in the major leagues and a few more during which I obtained my master’s degree in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University.
My first career, as I refer to it, includes one All-Star appearance, one third-place finish in National League Cy Young Award voting, 110 career wins and one of the lowest walk rates in baseball history. The radar gun did not dance and sing while this was happening. No, when I finally was able to outrun a series of false starts and one significant shoulder surgery, I did so by using my mind to impose my will. As John Tudor, one of my former teammates with the St. Louis Cardinals, once said, “Anyone can pitch with a 93 m.p.h. fastball. It takes courage to pitch throwing 84.” Amen.
In my second career, the one I’m waist deep into and thoroughly enjoying now, I’m still trying to hit key spots with my mind. Only instead of specific locations on the plate—down and away, up and in—I work hard to pinpoint the spots that will help others thrive. Mental skills is an area of tremendous growth in this game right now. I’m proud to say I am one of the trailblazers.
I found out later that when the Red Sox were employing a full-court press to sign Lester as a free agent in the winter of 2014–2015, after I had left the Red Sox organization the first time to work for the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, Boston officials made it a point to tell Lester during a recruiting trip to his Georgia home, before the news would become public, that they had reached an agreement to bring me back into the organization.
Maybe no small part of the reason they included me in their pitch to Lester was because of this cool day in the Bay Area that started with the big left-hander’s approach and delivery.
Preparation never was a weakness for Lester. Few worked as hard as he did. But there was one area I felt could help improve his performance. I told him how I used mental imagery throughout my career. You’ve heard the expression “mental imagery”? The body doesn’t know the difference between a real or an imagined event and, therefore, the body will go where the mind takes it. During the tough times, mental imagery exercises I had developed helped me battle the fear of failure and insecurity that, always, are an athlete’s toughest opponent. During the good times, the mental imagery reinforced the foundation upon which I operated.
The short answer was that, no, Lester had never tried imagery before any of his starts. He had flirted with the idea of it just once, long ago, and he didn’t like it for a very interesting reason.
Lester was never much of a reader because his admittedly short attention span just won’t allow it, but he nevertheless devoured the legendary Harvey Dorfman’s The Mental ABC’s of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement when he was in high school. He read it in three days, matter of fact. It was during his senior year, and he had decided to not play basketball that winter in order to focus on baseball, and he read the book about a week before his first start.
Looking for a way to focus amid the swirl of professional scouts and college recruiters who were creating chaos in his life at the time, Lester inhaled the book and immediately went out and threw a no-hitter in that first start, punching out nineteen hitters. He came within one out of a perfect game.
And that is why, more than a decade later, he still shied away from imagery. Because, as he told me, he just knew he could not replicate the success of that no-hitter with nineteen strikeouts.
“It just so happened that it was one of those days that just kind of fell in line with what I was doing and I was like, ‘I can’t get back to that place. If I try to do imagery again, it won’t replicate the outcome,’” Jon says.
“That’s the first thing you think of when you do it. You think of the last time you did it and what happened.”
I shared my personal experiences of having used imagery for most of my career, and how powerful a mental tool it had been for me. He seemed intrigued. I asked if he would be willing to try a guided imagery exercise with me to give him a feel for what I was talking about. It was the right moment. At this point, Lester was open to anything that might help him.
We walked up the long tunnel leading from the dugout back into the visitors’ clubhouse and disappeared into a small office. He sank into a leather couch. He slouched down, getting comfortable, his head leaned back against the top of the couch. In full Red Sox uniform, he tugged his baseball cap forward, tilted to shield his eyes from the room’s harsh fluorescent light.
“Okay, now that you are comfortable, I want you to close your eyes and focus on your breathing,” I told him.
I spoke slowly, softly. “Inhale through your nose… feel the air as it slowly passes down through the back of your throat and into your lungs… feel your chest rise and expand… now hold it… now exhale slowly and fully through your mouth.”
We repeated that sequence three times. As we did, I noticed Jon gradually sink deeper into the couch. His jaw loosened. His mouth opened slightly. His leg twitched. I paused, surprised he had become so relaxed so quickly.
“You are now relaxed and ready for your imagery practice,” I said.
Following a few seconds of silence, I continued. “Now, imagine yourself on the pitcher’s mound tomorrow night. Feel your spikes as they rest firmly on the pitching rubber. Feel the seams of the baseball as you grip the ball in your glove, which you hold up directly in front of you.”
I led him through game situations. Through facing two batters while pitching from the windup. One batter while pitching from the stretch. I worked to create pictures in his mind, each associated with a particular pitch. Fastballs down and away for called strikes. Changeups cloaked in the illusion of fastballs, creating swings and misses. Slow curveballs floating in for strikes, the hitters helplessly watching them go by. Deadly cutters that made those hitters look foolish.
I went through each batter he would see in Oakland’s lineup the next night. I detailed various situations he might face and how he would successfully respond to them. Someone commits an error, this is how you react to it.
This imagery exercise went on for about eight minutes, and then I instructed Jon to open his eyes and reorient himself to the room. When he nudged his cap up off of his face, he looked like he had been sleeping. Wow, I thought. He really got into this.
“What did you think?” I asked. He said he liked it but that at times my dialogue went a little too fast. Because of that, at times, he said, he struggled to fully create images in his mind. This was good feedback for next time. Most important, there would be a next time. He was buying in.
We agreed to implement this brief imagery practice into his pregame routine the next night. The best time, we decided, would be after his pitcher’s meeting, around five o’clock. Before each start, the starting pitcher, catcher and pitching coach meet to go over that night’s opposing lineup and implement a game plan. Right after that, Lester would go to the trainer’s room, lie on the table, cover his eyes and re-create, as best he could, what we had just done.
On the field that Saturday night, Lester felt more comfortable than he had all season. He threw a called third strike by Coco Crisp to start the bottom of a 1-2-3 first inning. Induced a ground-ball double play in the second from Nate Freiman and wound up stranding two Athletics and holding them off the scoreboard. Derek Norris touched him for a solo homer in the fifth, and then Oakland scratched two more runs off of him in the sixth.
But on this night, the internal results following his session the night before became the most important element.
“It was almost like I had already pitched,” Lester says. “I felt more relaxed and prepared. We lost 3-0, but I pitched a lot better. I felt more in command with what was going on in the game, with situations that arose during the game.”
We talked again the next day about implementing imagery and visualization permanently into his pregame routine. We decided that I would record a guided imagery program for him to use prior to his starts during the season’s second half. We discussed the content and timing of the script that day, and I made the recording during the All-Star break.
Over thirteen starts during the second half of the season, Lester would go 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA. Best of all, that run would stretch deep into October, where a quiet room in Fenway Park and an imagery program on Lester’s iPod would combine to become as beautiful in Boston as the autumn orange- and red-tinged trees along the Charles River…
BREATHE. On a ninety-three-degree, mid-June night in St. Louis in 1990, I could have used a scenic and placid sight exactly like that. In fact, I really could have used someone like me.
At twenty-nine, with my major league career hanging precariously from a thread that seemed like it was twisting from the top of the Gateway Arch, the circumstances of my own career were so different from those of Lester at that age.
Back in those days, when grand old characters with names like Whitey Herzog, Sparky Anderson and Stump Merrill roamed the earth’s dugouts, any player who requested a visit with a mental skills coach would have been plopped onto the first bus back to Toledo, or Springfield, or Oneonta, where I threw my first professional pitch in 1981.
They didn’t have mental skills coaches.
They had men like Ted Simmons.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Ted Simmons. I love him in no small part because he was the man who saved me from the discard pile. He fought for me to get a chance. Whatever we’re doing in life, we all need people who have our back. You never forget the people who do.
Over the past year and a half at Triple-A Louisville, I had gone 16-7 with a 2.43 ERA. I had started the ’90 season in the St. Louis bullpen, made eight appearances and then was optioned back to Louisville in early May. Then and the year before, every time the Cardinals dipped into their minor league system in need of a starting pitcher, it seemed like they were looking in every direction but mine. They plucked pitchers with better arms than mine, guys who threw harder, guys who were younger, guys who filled out every part of a scouting report you could imagine. Except me.
Life in the minor leagues, you get tired of it after a while. Especially when you’ve been drafted nine years earlier—thank you, New York Yankees—battled your way up the chain as a nineteenth-round pick and recently fought your way back from a shoulder surgery that left you wondering whether you’d suddenly have to begin the second chapter of your life far sooner than you were prepared for.
To that point in 1990, I had pitched in a grand total of forty-six big-league games for the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis. Of those, thirty-four were starts. I was nowhere near as financially secure at twenty-nine as Lester was. Though he was still in the middle of a club-friendly deal, he had already earned roughly $20 million by then. On my end at that point, Laura and I had married less than two years earlier, in January 1989. She was still working as an assistant to the president of Concord Hospital. I was confident that my arm would bounce back. So we bought a very modest Cape Cod house, figuring it was something we could afford while we saw how things went.
Maybe we should have rented. The more the Cardinals bypassed me, the more frustrating it became. I began to look for an exit. Unable to get to Busch Stadium, I wanted to get far away from the bush leagues. How far? I even began talking about going to Japan to play.
Where Lester was frustrated with his own individual performance that day in Oakland because he knew he could pitch better at twenty-nine, I still didn’t even know whether I could pitch in the big leagues at all. I was looking to secure both my own existence and a place in the game.
Then, the Cardinals called.
And when I arrived in St. Louis a day later with the promise of my first start in 1990, the farm director who helped pave the way cornered me against a concrete wall in the tunnel outside the Cardinals’ clubhouse.
“You’re going to get the ball on Saturday,” Simmons told me. “And if you do well, you’ll get it again. If not, I am not sure what will happen.”
How’s that for imagery? It scared the piss out of me. Yet, it’s something every player wants to hear. Just give me a chance. If I can’t do it, I’ll be the first one to go home.
Simmons has been described by more than a few in the baseball world as “an acquired taste,” and they—and I—mean that in the best possible way. He is a no-nonsense baseball savant. Doesn’t suffer fools. Following a well-decorated, twenty-one-year career behind the plate with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta, he became a well-respected executive and scout.
Once you get past that sandpaper exterior coated with the dust of a few thousand infields, the knowledge and the stories flow from Simmons’s worldly, razor-sharp mind. St. Louis picked him in the first round (tenth overall) of the 1967 draft out of the University of Michigan, back in the days of hippies and Vietnam. He went back to school during the off-seasons, and one icy winter weekend, Ted was hitchhiking home from Ann Arbor with his then girlfriend (now wife), Maryanne, when a van pulled over. After he helped Maryanne into the front seat, Simmons climbed into the back, where all the seats had been removed to make room for a full drum kit.
“Where ya going?” the driver asked.
“Detroit,” Simmons replied.
That settled, Simmons noted that the driver must be a musician, introduced himself and Maryanne and inquired as to the driver’s name.
“Bob Seger,” came the reply.
A local legend who had yet to break nationally at the time, it would be only a few more years until Live Bullet and Night Moves rocketed Seger to stardom.
“He wasn’t huge yet,” Simmons says. “Then he got huge. It was just super of anybody to stop. He could have been a serial killer.”
Now here we were, a decade after Simmons’s one-time ride wrote the classic song, and I definitely was running against the wind.
“Bobby had pitched in Triple-A over the past two years and dominated,” Simmons says. “Our manager at the time was Whitey Herzog, and Tewksbury was a finesse pitcher, to say the very least. Even though he had won all of those games in Louisville, it was very difficult for Mike Jorgensen, our Triple-A manager at the time, and myself to convince anybody that this guy should pitch because he was a slow, curveball, finesse pitcher. Not the most desirable to bring to the majors.
“After talking with Whitey and Dal Maxvill [St. Louis’s general manager at the time], I was able to convince them to give him a chance. If he doesn’t pitch well, we’ll send him back. They finally said, ‘Okay, bring him up here.’ I knew both well enough to know that if Bob didn’t pitch well, he wasn’t coming back. I wanted to see and talk to him specifically, because I’m straightforward, no foolishness. ‘Bob, here’s the facts. I don’t want you to be disillusioned or disappointed. You have to pitch well Saturday. If not, you’re going back to the minors. You have to pitch well, and I’ve come to wish you all the luck.’”
Making the situation even more dire was this. When the Cardinals optioned me back to the minors five weeks earlier, I was out of options. Which meant they had to run me through waivers, meaning any other big-league club could claim me as its property and give me a uniform.
I desperately was hoping for this as an avenue back to the majors. Yet, all twenty-five other teams passed. So here I was, literally cornered between Simmons and a Busch Stadium concrete wall, my future after Saturday as murky as the Mississippi River a few blocks away.
Over those next few days, as I returned to the imagery practice that had been so powerful in New York when I was with the Yankees, jangled nerves gave way to a calmness. Even if it was for just one day, I again, finally, had some control over my situation.
Coming into the game, I knew the Montreal Expos were hot. They had won three in a row, five of six and eight of ten. I knew they neither struck out nor walked much. This team liked to swing the bat. I knew I was going to throw well that day. In a strange sort of way, everything was aligned. Just as certain ballpark settings can make you feel more or less comfortable, so, too, can certain opposing lineups. I knew many of the Expos players, having faced them in the minor leagues. And the imagery work left me feeling at peace.
With all due respect to Spike Owen, Tom Foley and Mike Fitzgerald, I felt like those guys weren’t going to do damage off of me (although Fitzgerald did bang a fifth-inning triple to set up Montreal’s first run). I was more worried about Tim Wallach and Andrés Galarraga. I wasn’t even that worried about Tim Raines. I knew he was a great player, but I felt comfortable pitching against him. I knew I could throw him fastballs away, and because he dove over the plate so much, I felt I could get the ball in on him and minimize damage.
Davey Martinez, Montreal’s leadoff hitter, was a teammate of mine with the Cubs in 1987 and 1988. I knew he had a tough combination of power and speed and didn’t strike out often. But I had more difficulty with contact hitters, and these Expos were a free-swinging team. As I worked on my imagery, that, too, added to my confidence. My entire approach was to put the ball in play while taking the sting out of their bats.
So despite the pressure, uncertain future, a skeptical manager in my dugout and 43,553 in the stands, the mound became a very peaceful place. I struck out Martinez to start the game, gave up a two-out double to Raines in the first but then got Galarraga to ground to third.
Second inning went 1-2-3 on just seven pitches, then I worked around a one-out double from pitcher Kevin Gross to finish a scoreless third and then went 1-2-3 in the fourth. It was 0-0 and my confidence was rock solid.
We had a chance to score in the fourth when Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee rapped base hits to start the inning, and I was thinking it sure would be great to get a lead, but they were stranded.
By the fifth, I began to feel a little pressure in my performance, and when Fitzgerald punched a one-out line drive to right field for a triple, the heat on this ninety-three-degree day shot up immediately. Foley singled him home and, after another out, my old buddy Martinez cracked a two-run homer to put Montreal up 3-0.
In my mind, there was no time to fret. We scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and I knew I had to recover and pitch a couple of more innings to make this a good outing and continue to give my team a chance to win. Facing the heart of the Montreal lineup in the sixth, I induced a ground ball from Raines and then got consecutive fly balls from Galarraga and Wallach.
After Milt Thompson’s RBI single evened the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, I kept the Expos off the board in the seventh. That was it for my day. Seven innings, three runs, eighty pitches, sixty-one strikes and, given that we came back to win 5-3, a 1-0 record. I left with a good feeling, like, whew, okay, I cleared one hurdle. I felt like I was going to get the ball again, maybe the performance against the Expos would even earn me at least a couple of more starts.
I don’t remember a lot in the immediate aftermath of that start, but a week later in Chicago against my old Cubs, I got the ball again—and earned another victory. What happened after that Expos game was my old pitching coach, Mike Roarke, asked what day did I want to throw on the side? I always liked my bullpen day to be on the third day after I started instead of on the second day after.
Roarke didn’t say a whole lot and, when he did, he mumbled. There wasn’t a lot of communication in those days. You did a lot of waiting, wondering and tea-leaf reading.
What I didn’t need communicated, however, was this. Hitters don’t like to hit from behind in the count, even against soft throwers. I used this to my advantage while mentally cat-burgling my way through the game for the next nine years, and this was as important to my imagery and visualization preparation as Galarraga’s bat was to his impressive career.
That day was like starting all over again. A kind of rebirth, with some sharpened skills that would not only help me then, but allow me to help others, like Lester, a generation or two down the line, as baseball became more and more enlightened where the mental game was concerned.
When I see Simmons today, he always gives me a big smile, like, “I remember that talk.” It’s one of those things, I think, where as an instructor or coach, when you have faith in a player and the player comes through, you feel happy you fought for the player.
I remained in the Cardinals’ rotation the rest of that season (going 10-9 with a 3.23 ERA in twenty starts), through Herzog’s firing and Joe Torre’s hiring, and for four more seasons after that. Then I signed free-agent contracts with Texas, San Diego and Minnesota, continuing to visualize my way through moments both big and small, mind-crafting my way through fearsome opposing lineups with low radar-gun readings but deft command of my fastball.
Some games, things went close to the mental script I had laid out beforehand. Others didn’t. But I had my foundation, my anchor, and that prepared me for everything. And anything.
One day in 1995 when I was with the Rangers, I returned to pitch in Fenway Park, just seventy miles from my home. We won a wild one, 9-8, scoring eight earned runs against Roger Clemens in the first four innings. I only lasted four and two-thirds innings myself, giving up six hits and six runs. And as I walked to my car afterward, wouldn’t you know it, I saw an SUV stopped in the street near the players’ parking lot, mobbed by fans. The parking lot attendant informed me it was Clemens.
So I threaded my way through, approached the vehicle from the passenger side, opened the door and hopped in, figuring I would commiserate with him. In one hand, I was carrying a bouquet of flowers a fan had given me. In the other, I was carrying a paper sack containing a few beers.
- "Tewks and I were teammates when Tewks was ending his career with the Twins. I saw him use his mind to be successful on the mound. Years later, we were once again on the same team with the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox, and I again saw him use his mind--this time to help others. I know he helped us win, and I know this book can help anyone who reads it."—David Ortiz, 10-time All-Star, 3-time World Series champion, and New York Times bestselling author of Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits; called "the most important player in Boston Red Sox history."
- "Nobody I've come across in my almost 30 years in the game did more with his God-given talent than Tewks. But more than that, he was always different. Not just an athlete, but a deep thinker, a good teammate, and an even better friend. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants an inside look into the mental aspects of baseball."—Joe Buck, lead play-by-play broadcaster, Fox Sports
- "Tewksbury relied on control and guile, a testament to his ability to think and adjust. His intellect and devotion to helping others came with the credibility of knowing what it is like to stand on a major-league mound with three tiers of stands staring down on him. Few better understand that baseball is a human game, and humans are fragile beings."—Peter Gammons, Hall of Fame and J.G. Taylor Spink Award-winning baseball writer and MLB Network on-air analyst
"Cutting edge stuff in the new frontier of baseball readiness. Forget WAR and heartless analytics, former All-Star pitcher Bob Tewksbury and veteran scribe Scott Miller explain that baseball success and failure is 'Ninety Percent Mental.' This book should be required reading for all ballplayers, coaches, and parents."
—Dan Shaughnessy, New York Timesbestselling author and 2016 Spink Award recipient at Baseball Hall of Fame
- "Bob became an All-Star not through physical gifts, but because he excelled on the mental side of a game that constantly challenges its players and their resilience. A must read for baseball fans."—Joe Torre, Hall of Fame and Four-Time World Series Champion Manager, and Chief Baseball Officer, Major League Baseball
- "A highly entertaining, often hilarious peek inside the game from Bob Tewksbury, one of the sport's smartest yet most self-deprecating souls. Whether you're a casual fan, a baseball parent, or a player yourself, Ninety Percent Mental is 100 percent for all."—Ken Rosenthal, MLB on FOX reporter, senior writer, The Athletic, MLB Network insider
- "Bob Tewksbury and Scott Miller combined to produce a must-read book for anyone fascinated by the mental side of baseball. This is about so much more than the journey of a veteran pitcher. It's about the journey of one of baseball's most inquisitive minds."—Jayson Stark, former senior columnist, ESPN.com
- "What a tremendous behind-the-scenes read into an area of the game that reaches into the crevices of the most underappreciated element of baseball in this era of advanced metrics: the mind. Bob Tewksbury and Scott Miller provide a fascinating look into the mental training of the game in such an entertaining way. They take you to the fear of death on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix to history being ruined by Franklin Freaking Stubbs in St. Louis to the highs and lows of pitching in the 1992 All-Star Game in San Diego to having an instrumental role in the 2016 World Series. If you didn't respect and love Bob Tewksbury before, you sure will after finishing this gem."—Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports Baseball columnist
"Bob Tewksbury was one of the most intuitive ballplayers I ever covered, and his book Ninety Percent Mental only reinforces that. This is a definitive 'inside baseball' book that keeps you captivated from start to finish."
—Bill Madden, New York Daily News and 2010 winner of the Hall of Fame's J.G. Taylor Spink Award
- "Ninety Percent Mental promises to be one of the best baseball books of the year."—FanGraphs
- "Baseball fans will gain insight into the mental side of the game, and they will walk away with an even greater appreciation for what these athletes go through in their drive for success."—Clearing out the Clutter
- "An engaging read that should appeal to anyone who has interests beyond the black and white numbers behind the heavy analytics of the current baseball world."—TalkNats
- "Readers interested in how professional athletes mentally prepare for big (and little) games will enjoy the stories shared."—Library Journal
- "An entertaining and self-deprecating autobiographical work that explores the mental side of the game."—Wall Street Journal
- "In the era of Big Data, this is a refreshing look at the human side of the game and an important reminder of the challenges even major leaguers face in staying in the right frame of mind."—Baseball America
- "Masterful storytelling that succeeds in merging intriguing stories from his career with useful mental skills that anyone can use in their respective profession."—Spitball
- On Sale
- Mar 10, 2020
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Hachette Go