To be candid, when I was first presented with an opportunity to review “Inside Power” (by Gary Sheffield with David Ritz), I accepted it not because I was attracted to learning more about the story of Gary Sheffield. I already knew that Sheffield was one of the all-time twenty-five best right-handed batters in the history of baseball. And, I knew that Sheffield was as hard-nosed as a real life “C-Note” Franklin. Therefore, I felt that I knew everything that I needed to know about Gary Sheffield. More so, rather than being driven by interest, I accepted the chance to read “Inside Power” because of my personal (and habitual) reflex/willingness to read almost anything baseball-related.
However, I must confess that, as soon as I began to read “Inside Power,” I found myself become rapidly engrossed in this book.
In this autobiography, Sheffield tells his story – starting at the age of four, where he was hard pushed by his grandfather, step-father, and uncle (Dwight Gooden) to be tough and to excel at baseball. And, the story runs through his days in Little League, the Minor Leagues, and all his stops in the big leagues. Along the journey, Sheffield shares his take on dealing with racism, collusion, violence, the media, Bud Selig, Wayne Huizenga, Bob Dailey, Tommy Lasorda, Barry Bonds (and BALCO), George Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, Joe Torre (among others).
In “Inside Power” we also learn how Sheffield, who had four children with four different women before he turned 30-years old, found religion and settled down with DeLeon Richards (who, along with former teammate Terry Pendleton, has become a major factor in how Sheffield now lives his life).
There is much to be found in this book. Even the name “Gary Sheffield” has a story to it. Gary’s mother is Dwight Gooden’s older sister. She married a man named Harold Jones and took his last name. However, before she married Jones, she became pregnant by a man named Marvin Johnson – a pregnancy which led to the birth of “Gary Sheffield.” Where did “Sheffield” come from? While she was pregnant, Gary’s mom was planning to marry a man named Lindsay Sheffield. When Gary was born, his mother listed “Sheffield” as the last name on his birth certificate to match the name of the man she planned to marry. However, the Gooden-Lindsay marriage never happened – and, after the break-up, Lindsay was killed. So, as Gary writes “My father’s name is Johnson. My mother’s name is Jones. My grandmother and grandfather’s name is Gooden. And, I’m Sheffield, named for a man, killed in a robbery, who I never knew.”
There’s plenty of intriguing tales such as this one in Sheffield’s book. “Inside Power” is a very quick-read, yet, it is attention-grabbing. I was pleased to have read it – and do recommend this book to any baseball looking to learn more about the complex life behind one of the greatest baseball hitters in the modern history of the game.