by John Ring

Galesburg native Jim Sundberg can now add the profession of ''author'' to his long list of achievements.

Sundberg, a former professional baseball player and broadcaster, recently wrote a book -- along with his wife, Janet -- called ''How to Win at Sports Parenting: Maximizing the Sports Experience for You and Your Child.''

In the book, Sundberg draws from his own experience as both a young athlete and a parent and writes about the dos and don't for parents who have children in athletics.

Sundberg is candidly honest in this book. He reflects on his childhood and pressures from his own father. He writes of a Little League game in which he hit three home runs but struck out once. After the game, his father said, ''If you would have held your elbow up like I showed you, you wouldn't have struck out.''

This isn't ''Father Dearest'' by any means. Sundberg writes on the same page that his Dad meant well, that he loved him and that he genuinely just wanted to help. But Sundberg also admits that at times, he felt more like a robot than a real person.

As a father with three children, Jim also reflects on the times he wasn't a good parent -- especially when he became angry at a college coach after his son was pulled from the starting rotation after losing his first two games that were both low-scoring affairs.

The book is broken down into four main sections -- parents, kids, the coach and the family and youth sports. Interesting sidebars are throughout the book, such as surveys on why boys and girls participate in sports, why kids drop out of sports, motivational tools and how to effectively communicate with a coach.

He also writes that sports for youth can be approached from two levels -- the first for the beginning athlete, the second for sports after age 14.

The paperback book (205 pages, $12.95 cost, published by Waterbrook Press) is an easy read. I consumed it in one night.

In once chapter of the book, Sundberg gives examples of the types of parents you can see or hear at most sporting events that involve children. He's right on target; most of his examples can easily be found at any Silver Streak basketball or baseball game.

Sundberg played for four different teams over a 14-year career in the majors. He was an integral part of the 1985 World Champion Kansas City Royals team that roared back from a 3-1 deficit and beat the Cardinals. He played in 1,848 games and was one of the more popular players in Ranger history. The GHS baseball field is named after him.

Baseball anecdotes in this book are few in number but good in quality. I found myself wishing he would have written about more of his career but this certainly wasn't the platform for it.

The book is frequently dashed with religion and Galesburg is never mentioned by name. Neither is legendary Coach John Thiel, who Sundberg played basketball for at GHS.

We made numerous attempts to contact Jim to talk about this book but every effort fell through. Because of family obligations and am impending two-week military jaunt to Alaska, I had a self-imposed deadline set last Thursday. A time was set up through Waterbrook Publishing for that day but Sundberg's agency changed it three different times that day and Sundberg eventually never called.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online August 15, 2000

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