Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever, the story of the three-time All-Star and 1996 National League MVP whose addictions and use of steroids derailed his career and life, has been named one of 10 finalists for the prestigious CASEY Award, which Spitball magazine annually honors as top baseball book. Written by seasoned book writer, ghostwriter, journalist, and editor Dan Good, “Playing Through the Pain” was published in May by Abrams Press to great acclaim in the baseball, sports and mental health communities.
Good began researching Caminiti in 2012 and conducted his first interviews for his biography in 2013. Since then he interviewed 400 people, providing him with an exclusive and exhaustive view into Caminiti’s life.
More than two decades later, the full truth about Major League Baseball’s steroids era remains elusive, and the story of Caminiti, the player who opened the lid on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has never been properly told. A gritty third baseman known for his diving stops, cannon arm, and switch-hit power, Caminiti voluntarily admitted in a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover story that he used steroids during his career, including his 1996 MVP season, and guessed that half of the players were using performance-enhancing drugs. “I’ve made a ton of mistakes,” he said. “I don’t think using steroids is one of them.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the CASEY Award by Spitball, a literary baseball magazine founded in 1981 and dedicated to poetry, short fiction, prose, art, and book reviews; all devoted to baseball. Among the previous CASEY Award winners are notable authors and baseball historians such as Joe Posnanski, Marty Appel, Rob Neyer, Kostya Kennedy, Howard Bryant, Larry Tye, Leigh Montville, Phil Dixon, Bill James, Roger Kahn and others.
“It’s truly an honor to be considered among this amazing group of books and authors,” said Good, who has held leadership roles with the New York Daily News and New York Post and also worked for NBC News, ABC News, and local news outlets in New Jersey and his native Pennsylvania. “I’m pleased that the Spitball team has considered Caminiti’s story worthy of inclusion among the other compelling ones that this list represents.”
The 10 books listed as finalists for the award, to be announced in March 2023, are as follows:
• The Book of Joe: Trying Not to Suck at Baseball and Life by Joe Maddon and Tom Verducci, Twelve Books; • Charlie Murphy: The Iconoclastic Showman Behind the Chicago Cubs by Jason Cannon, University of Nebraska Press; • The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham: Home Runs, Bad Calls, Crazy Fights, Big Swings, and a Hit by Ron Shelton, Knopf; • The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series by Tyler Kepner, Doubleday; • The Lineup: Ten Books that Changed Baseball by Paul Aron, McFarland; • Playing through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever by Dan Good, Abrams Press; • Red Barber: The Life and Legacy of a Broadcasting Legend by Judith R. Hiltner and James R. Walker, University of Nebraska Press; • Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original by Howard Bryant, Mariner; • In Scoring Position: 40 Years of a Baseball Love Affair by Bob Ryan & Bill Chuck, Triumph Books; and • True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy, St. Martin’s Press