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Garvey, by Steve Garvey with Skip Rozin (Times Books, $16.95), is a disturbing, provocative book. It can be profitably read by anyone fascinated with the theme of outer success and inner disappointment, but it is of special value to young men and women planning or even just dreaming of careers as professional athletes. The book includes much that can be found in a routine biography of a major sports star, but a critical difference makes Garvey a reading experience to be pondered and perused long afterward.

Steve Garvey brought to sports great gifts, both mental and physical, that he either understood instinctively or quickly learned to manage. Although he was a slow starter—he didn't get a single base hit in his whole first season in Little League—he was a star and a hero in high school and on campus and, as the song goes, he married the beautiful girl.

He was wooed by the Dodgers, the team of his childhood dreams—as a 7-year-old he'd been a batboy during spring training for Hodges and Robinson and Reese and Furillo—but he insisted on an arrangement that allowed him to finish his college education. He was a star in the minors and a superstar in Los Angeles. For a decade he was the most admired sports figure in town, a tireless worker for charities and good causes and, especially, for his beloved Dodgers, with whom his name and face became synonymous. And then, in the prime of his glittering career, he faced three unpleasant facts: His idyllic marriage had collapsed; he was just another athlete to the Dodgers, albeit a great one, and their long-term plans did not include him; and many of his teammates considered him a fraud, believing that the motive behind his good works was self-promotion.

The book examines these subjects with candor, fairness and skill, the last surely Rozin's contribution. Though Garvey's revelations will hardly satisfy all parties, he deserves credit for reviving these painful events while he is still very much in the public eye as an athlete and a charismatic personality.