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Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History Hardcover – March 13, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060889373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060889371
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It's been almost a century since the loopy shenanigans of 1908 that produced what Fortune magazine editor Cait Murphy calls "the year that baseball comes of age," but the resultant drama has hardly faded with time. Although baseball books tend to sag with nostalgia, Murphy's wisecracking yarn digs right into the era's brawling, vivid ugliness with little regard for such niceties, and is all the better for it. Her book is so rife with corruption, greed, stupidity and downright weirdness that it makes today's sport of sanctimony and clean behavior look positively sleepy in comparison. This isn't surprising, given that 1908 was not just the last year that the shockingly victorious Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series, but also the year when a game would be called a tie through sheer Rashomon-like confusion and when a game day riot would take the lives of two people. The titanic matches between the rival Cubs and New York Giants are thrilling enough, but what really makes Murphy's book an addictive pleasure is the joy the author takes in the colorful asides where she fills in the chaotic blanks of an America discovering not just the joy of its national pastime but its very character. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fans knew they were seeing the end of a marvelous season when they watched the Cubs claim the National League pennant by defeating the New York Giants on October 8, 1908. But with the advantage of historical perspective, Murphy recognizes that the '08 fans actually witnessed baseball's decisive turn toward modernity. In a tale peopled with colorful characters--including the regal Christy Mathewson and the boozy Hal Chase--Murphy unfolds the formative events of this frenetic year. Readers will relish the infamous "Merkle game"--a game apparently won by the Giants, but later declared a tie because of a base-running blunder. Almost as riveting is the season-ending replay of the controversial tie, a replay that so aroused fans that some snuck into the game through the sewers, and many stayed to assault the victorious visitors. A writer of exceptional verve when recounting the heroics of the diamond, Murphy evinces a shrewd intelligence when scanning the cultural forces remaking the world beyond the ballpark. She unravels the malign dynamics behind Ty Cobb's violence against blacks, and she limns the parallels between early-twentieth-century anxieties about immigrant anarchists and twenty-first-century fears of foreign terrorists. A book that will long claim the attention of serious sports enthusiasts. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Cait Murphy's historical account of the 1908 baseball season is a gem.
P. Bayer
This is a terrific, well-researched, very well written book about one glorious season in baseball history.
Dale Rhines
Writing like this insults not only her readers; it diminishes her believability.
Bruce J. Wasser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cait Murphy observes that 1908 is an important season in the history of baseball in America. She closes the book with the statement (page 288): "In the sweep of baseball's history, 1908 is not the end of an era, nor the beginning of one. It is, however, the end of the beginning." She starts the work by answering why she explores 1908 (page xiii): "The best season in baseball history id 1908. Besides two agonizing pennant races, it features history's finest pitching duel, hurled in the white heat of an October stretch drive, and the most controversial game ever played." I'm not sure that I buy 1908 as the apogee of baseball; however, Murphy does make a nice case.

The book begins with some context, looking at the earlier years of the National League and American League just after the turn of the century. She also looks at the evolution of gloves and bats and the other artifacts of the game. There are glimpses of stadia of the time.

Also nicely done are the character sketches of some key figures from 1908--from Manager John McGraw of the Giants to John Evers and Frank ("Husk" or "The Peerless Leader") Chance of the Cubs to Honus Wagner and so on. The book takes a chronological look at the season thereafter, from opening day through the great replay of the tie game (when Fred Merkle didn't touch second base, leading to a tie score) to a brief afterword on the World Series (not much time spent on it, since it was a blowout, with the Cubs winning their last World Series over the Detroit Tigers).
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on April 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cait Murphy has composed a splendidly written chronicle of a year in the life of baseball. "Crazy `08" builds fast with a sweeping history of the years preceding '08. It then ties together story after fascinating story, breathing life into the dead ball era. This is not simply a baseball book, it is a book about life, competition, egos, culture, and a nation. The portraits are not always pretty, because baseball (and life) are not always attractive. However Murphy's paintings of these pictures are striking and eye-catching.

Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction , Soul Physicians, and Spiritual Friends (and an avid Cubs' fan!).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read other books reviewing the 1908 baseball season such as "The Unforgettable Season", but Cait Murphy's effort is the best by far. She has done a masterful job in bringing the significant individuals back to life from this time period. In addition, her description of the fans (bugs or cranks), and their loyalty to their home team is outstanding. This book made me feel as though I was right there taking part in what the game of baseball was like in 1908. It is really a "You Are There" description. Her humorous method of writing throughout the book is precious with laughs on many pages. The book focuses mainly on three National League teams (Giants, Cubs, and Pirates) that are fighting for the pennant while one chapter is devoted to the three American League teams (Tigers, White Sox, and Indians) battling for the A. L. flag. The text, itself, is 298 pages long and is very hard to put down. I have read hundreds of baseball books, and this is one of the very best. If you want a taste of what the game of baseball and its fans were like 100 years ago this is a wonderful book for you to read. Also, if you have a youngster around 10 years old who enjoys reading about the game's history I would highly recommend this book. I know I am ordering extra copies for just that purpose. In addition, present major league players would do well to introduce themselves to what the game was like 100 years ago along with learning about the men who made up the game's colorful past. Get busy on another one, Ms. Murphy.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By mike in baltimore on May 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Baseball is one of my favorite subjects, and the early 20th century is my favorite time period, so I was eager to read this book. The author's writing style, however, leaves this fascinating subject matter in shambles. Ms. Murphy has a maddening tendency to change tense multiple times in the middle of paragraphs. She often, in fact, changes tense in the middle of sentences. It makes me think that modern day publishers can no longer afford proofreaders. Any journalism professor I ever had would have failed me outright if I'd handed in a work like this. I really WANTED to like this book, but it left me with my head on the table, unable to get through to the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rich Piellisch on November 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
From the preamble with its loving lament to her late Dad to the gripping epilogue, this is an astonishingly readable book, far more than readable, as Cait Murphy has achieved a distinctive style, a voice that combines the banter of baseball with enormous erudition and an authority born of massive research. It's archival journalism at its very best. The result is a history not only of a great baseball season but of an era when, as Murphy notes, the sport we know today and the corporate culture of 20th century America itself took shape. Sidebars on Tammany corruption in New York and a lady mass-murderer in Chicago provide context, and far-distant baseball characters like John McGraw, Honus Wagner, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown (the photo of his pitching hand alone is worth the price of the book), the disbeloved Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, the Rubes Marquand and Waddell, and Tinker and Evers and Chance are all brought to life. Fred Merkle too, yes.
This is the best baseball book since Jim Bouton's Ball Four in 1970. It's in fact better. Bouton's book was a beautiful bingle. Cait Murphy has hit a grand slam -- no mean feat for 1908.
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