Letters to a Future Champion: My Time with Mr. Pulver by Dottie Pepper. Mission Point. 195 pages. 2021
Letters to a Future Champion is really a unique book. It is written by Dottie Pepper, a 17-time winner on the LPGA Tour, two-time major champion, and current lead CBS golf reporter. The book tells the story of her being mentored by George Pulver Sr., a golfer, course designer and advocate for the game throughout the Northeast. The book demonstrates the powerful impact a mentor can have on the skills/job and life of the mentee.
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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Get Up, Baby! My Seven Decades with the St. Louis Cardinals by Mike Shannon with Rick Hummel
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BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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The book takes us through their special mentoring relationship from the time Pepper was 15 into her college years at Furman University. At the time of Pulver’s death after a long illness at the age of 87 in 1986 he was still coaching Pepper, then a junior at Furman, who would call him her best friend. Pulver’s love for Dottie was such that he considered her like one of his own children.
Completed during the COVID-19 lockdown period, Pepper brings their mentoring relationship to life by including copies of the original letters that they would write back to each other. For nearly forty years, Pepper has kept the typewritten letters from her mentor in a now well-worn three-ring binder. The book also includes biographical information and helpful photographs.
By 1971, Pulver Sr. had designed and completed construction pf the Brookhaven Golf Club, and remained involved in the club’s agronomy. At age 9, Pepper was a junior member there, playing most of her golf with her paternal grandmother. On March 4, 1980 she sent her first letter to George Pulver, Sr.
Pulver Sr. would keep all of the letters Pepper sent him, just as Pepper kept all of the typewritten letters she received from Pulver Sr., the first being March 15, 1980 and the last one October 5, 1985. Pulver Sr.’s letters would include perspective, encouragement, and examples of tour players she could relate to. He would send her advice on her golf swing, advice on clubs and her grip, how to play in cold weather, etc., and books to read such as The Education of a Golfer by Sam Snead, Golf is My Game by Bobby Jones, and Thirty Years of Championship Golf by Gene Sarazen. He would end each letter with a positive comment. After each of her in-person lessons, a summary letter would follow in a day or two. The letters were simple, direct and always based on the fundamentals.
Throughout the book, Pepper takes us through her ups and downs in junior golf and in college at Furman University. She would share her progress in her letters with Pulver Sr.
Pepper also shares her thoughts on youth sports and her appreciation for Judy Rankin, who encouraged her to get into broadcasting.
This book, which is beautifully put together, will be appreciated by golf fans, as well as those who enjoy pouring into those coming up behind them in mentoring relationships.
A portion of the proceeds of the book goes directly to the programming efforts of the Saratoga WarHorse, an organization serving veterans and service members living with post-traumatic stress throughout the United States.
Get Up, Baby! My Seven Decades with the St. Louis Cardinals by Mike Shannon with Rick Hummel. Triumph Books. 173 pages. 2022
In this enjoyable book, Mike Shannon shares stories about his life as an athlete and his 50 years in the St. Louis Cardinals’ broadcast booth. The book was written with Baseball Hall of Famer Rick Hummel, who has covered baseball for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 50 years.
Many will not know Shannon was an incredible athlete. Although he went into professional baseball, he is the only athlete to have won the best high school basketball player and best football player awards in the state of Missouri in the same year.
Shannon was an outfielder when he got to the major leagues with the Cardinals in 1962, but much of his time ended up being spent at third base. He played in three World Series, and hit a home run in each series.
Shannon had to retire as a Cardinals player at age 31 due to a serious kidney ailment (nephritis). When Harry Caray left as one of the Cardinals’ broadcasters, Shannon was hired by KMOX radio. He would remain in that position for 50 years, retiring after the 2021 season, at 82 years of age.
Shannon is known for his many “Shannonisms” He acknowledges that he’s had some “head-scratching lines” over the years, but writes that there was always a method behind his madness. The title of the book is from his call for home runs, specifically from his call on Mark McGwire’s 70th on the final day of the 1998 season, a line drive that barely cleared the left-field wall.
In addition to being a player and a broadcaster, Shannon has also owned a number of restaurants, including one nearby Busch Stadium II in downtown St. Louis. That was where his popular Live from Shannon’s show would be broadcast from on Friday and Saturday nights after Cardinal home games. My brother and I enjoyed listening to that show many times on the long ride home on I-55 late at night after attending a game. Shannon writes that it was those shows, along with conversations he had with people during rain delays, that are the things he most enjoyed about his 50 years in broadcasting.
Shannon is outspoken in his opinions, about major league baseball, indicating that baseball doesn’t need all the changes that are being made, and the high cost for a family to come to a game. He writes “I just tell the truth. I’ve always been me. Period. Take it or leave it. You get what you get with me. I don’t sugarcoat anything.”
I enjoyed reading about Shannon’s picks for baseball’s all-time team, as well as his all-time Cardinals team. I also enjoyed the thoughts about Shannon from others (Tony LaRussa, Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, Bob Uecker, Vin Scully and many more), that are included at the end of each chapter. Many share their desire that he be in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. He is a member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Shannon writes about his six children, his first wife Judy, who died of brain cancer in 2007 after 48 years of marriage and his second wife Lori.
Shannon contracted COVID in October, 2020, and was in the hospital for 15 days. He writes that the virus has stripped him of much of his vibrancy, and he now walks with a cane.
This is a book that will be enjoyed by Cardinals fans who watched Shannon play and listened to him in the broadcast booth for 50 years.
- Tim Keller Wants to Help You Forgive. Matt Smethurst interviews Tim Keller about his new book Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? Smethurst asks him why forgiving is so hard, whether it undermines justice, what lessons he’s learned from his marriage to Kathy, and more.
- Tim Keller’s New Book Tackles the Central Subject of the Christian Life. Chris Brauns reviews Tim Keller’s new book Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? He writes “The best thing that could be said of any book on forgiveness is that it focuses on the cross and King Jesus. This is beautifully true of Forgive.”
- John Piper on the Nature of Saving Faith. John Piper responds to Harrison Perkins’ (a Presbyterian pastor in London and online faculty in church history for Westminster Theological Seminary) review of Piper’s latest book What is Saving Faith?
- Thomas Jefferson: Hero or Villain? On this episode of the Gospelbound podcast, Collin Hansen visits with historian Thomas Kidd, author of Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh, about Jefferson’s views on Christianity and politics. They also talk about how Christians should approach history in general.
- Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy has published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.”
- Let The Nations Be Glad – Thirty Years Later. On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, recorded lived at the 2022 Sing! Getty Worship Conference, John Piper responds to the question “Looking back now on thirty years of what God has done with Let the Nations Be Glad!, what thoughts do you have on that book and missions going forward?
- My Book Reviews on Goodreads. Check out more than 435 of my book reviews as posted on Goodreads.
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 37: Driven Back to the Precious Roots of Election. Here are a few helpful quotes from the chapter:
- Everything God does to fulfill his new-covenant promises was secured by the death of Jesus.
- God’s providence in seeing to it that his people believe includes his choosing them for this.
- God has a people; they are his; and he gives them to Jesus.
- God chose you freely to belong to him. By an act of free grace. You did not qualify for God’s choice.
- The Father’s giving us to Jesus secures our coming. All he gives come. And when we come, Jesus receives us—forever. He will never cast us out.