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The First Fall Classic: The Red Sox, the Giants and the Cast of Players, Pugs and Politicos Who Re-Invented the World Series in 1912 [Kindle Edition]

Mike Vaccaro
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In this wonderful page-turner, veteran sports journalist Mike Vaccaro brings to life a bygone era in cinematic and intimate detail—and re-creates the magic and suspense of the world’s first classic series.

Despite a major presidential election, the near-assassination of Teddy Roosevelt, and the most sensational trial of the young century, baseball dominated front-page headlines in October 1912. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Giants of that year—two of the finest ball clubs that had ever been assembled—went head-to-head in a thrilling eight-game battle that ultimately elevated the World Series from a regional October novelty to a national obsession.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vaccaro, sports columnist for the New York Post, recreates the excitement of the 1912 World Series, complete with a hotly contested presidential campaign, an assassination attempt on Roosevelt and a grisly national murder trial. Two superb teams, the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants, reflect the bitter rivalry between the American and National Leagues, with several players destined for the Hall of Fame among them: Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood. Vaccaro tells the reader every riveting detail leading up to the games: death threats, gangster pressure, parents and truant officers seeking young boys with baseball fever. He pulls out all the stops through the series' competitive seven games, with the incredible tie-breaker and its aftermath. Informative yet entertaining, Vaccaro's extraordinary baseball chronicle renders the early days of our national pastime in all its grit and glory. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. It was that kind of World Series, and its story is very well told.”
Boston Globe

“A smart, lively account of the series that goes beyond the games themselves.”
The Washington Post

“A gripping drama, especially during the final game, which makes the reader want to flip ahead just to end the suspense and see who won.”
New York Post

“Persuasive. . . . Vaccaro’s mastery of the facts allows him to evoke a bygone world.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A marvelous book. . . . In recapturing this bygone era, Vaccaro shows us a baseball world in which gamblers were as ubiquitous as ‘at-bat introduction songs’ are today.”
“It’s no small feat to re-create a sports event when all the participants and observers are no longer with it. But Vaccaro pulled it off. . . . It was a different time, one that Vaccaro does a splendid job of bringing to life. This book is a treasure for any baseball fan.”
Buffalo News
“Nearly a century later, Mike Vaccaro has brilliantly portrayed a pivotal period in baseball history and how the game reflected the times in American Society in The First Fall Classic. Readers will thoroughly enjoy this fascinating look at the 1912 World Series and baseball’s transformation into our national pastime. I enjoyed the book so much I didn’t want it to end.”
—Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig
“A truly compelling read.”
New York Daily News
“Whether the 1912 World Series was the best of all time is debatable, though, as Vaccaro writes, a case can surely be made that it is. But its importance and excitement cannot be denied. The personalities and style of t...

Product Details

  • File Size: 5572 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (September 25, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002QE3CUI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,907 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Despite some errors of fact, a very good read November 5, 2009
Vaccaro, a columnist for the NEW YORK POST, has written a real gem of an historical baseball tome here -- a gem not without hairline cracks, certainly, but one that entertainingly and (for the most part) accurately portrays the events surrounding the 1912 World Series, which was indeed, as the title claims, the first truly great Fall Classic. Up until 1912, there had been relatively few truly memorable World Series and only one (that of 1909) that had gone the limit of seven games. The match between the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox "maxed out" and then some, with one tied game being called due to darkness and the eighth and final contest extending into extra innings. If that weren't enough, the eighth game featured a "strike" of sorts by a segment of Red Sox fans -- which, even then, were notoriously loyal -- and the final decision turned upon several of the most famous "boners" in World Series history.

In his HISTORICAL BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James notes that the major-league teams of the 1910s were as diverse a collection of individuals (excepting skin color, of course) as have ever played big-league ball. Teams were potpourris of the educated and illiterate, the gentlemanly and the borderline-criminal, and sometimes the mixture curdled into something ugly. The Red Sox were split between Irish Catholics and Protestant/Masons, while the Giants, led by manager John McGraw, the most notorious of hard-ass skippers, had on their roster Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson, a college graduate and famously straight arrow, and a couple of guys who hated McGraw's guts but wouldn't have wanted to play for any other manager.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Felt Like I was Brought Back In Time to the Year 1912 November 8, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Baseball has a fascinating history and author Mike Vaccaro brings the reader of his book back to what he calls "The First Fall Classic." The title meaning that this World Series (upper case) was the first one to really be considered a classic. In addition to bringing us a game-by-game description of the eight games (one was a tie) we are told about other important events taking place in the country at the time the games were taking place, namely the trial of officer Charles Becker for his arranged hit on Herman Rosenthal by a trio of gangsters with colorful monikers and the assassination attempt of Bull Moose candidate for president Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Author Vaccaro does a wonderful job in capturing the personalities of the participants of the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants. What a cast of characters! Names such as Christy Mathewson, Rube Marquard, Chief Meyers, Buck Herzog, Fred Merkle, Jeff Tesreau, Fred Snodgrass, Tris Speaker, Smokey Joe Wood, Harry Hooper, Duffy Lewis, and managers John McGraw and Jake Stahl. The Royal Rooters led by John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy serenade the fans and players with rousing renditions of "Tessie."

John McGraw is well known for his abrasive personality on the ball field, and for his intolerance for mental errors. However, not only was McGraw forgiving of the Merkle incident of 1908 and the Snodgrass "muff" in 1912, he raised their salary for the following year. Snodgrass took his dropped fly ball very hard, but you win as a team and you lose as a team. In addition to making a tremendous catch on the next batter, a dropped pop fly along the first base line that Merkle could have caught, but pitcher Mathewson called for catcher Meyers to catch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Collections strong in baseball history must have this January 18, 2010
THE FIRST FALL CLASSIC: THE RED SOX, THE GIANTS, AND THE CAST OF PLAYERS, PUGS AND THE POLITICOS WHO REINVENTED THE WORLD SERIES IN 1912 is a 'must' for any library strong in baseball history and culture. It covers a cast of characters who during the course of just eight games spanning nine days elevated the sport to World Series fame, involving sports and political worlds alike in the finest World Series ever played. Collections strong in baseball history must have this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good addition to a Deadball fan's library April 4, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Given that Michael Vaccaro is a sports columnist for the New York Post, his infatuation with the New York-Boston rivalry is understandable. His contention that the Giants and Red Sox reinvented the World Series in 1912, however, is quite debatable. True, it was the first series to go seven games (eight games were actually played, one ended in a tie) and be decided in extra innings, but fan interest, the intensity and the hoopla were easily matched by the 1911 World Series between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics.

The Red Sox and the Giants were bitter rivals. The Red Sox, led by Smokey Joe Wood's 34-5 record, were favored. Giants' manager John McGraw stoked the competitive fires when he labeled the Red Sox as a "one-man team," referring to Wood.

The Red Sox were up three games to one (plus a tie) when controversy and suspicions began to pop up. The players felt they were entitled to share revenues from the first five games, since one was tied, instead of the first four games. Of course, the baseball owners and the National Commission disagreed.

Boston could have wrapped up the series with one more win. Everyone expected Wood to start the decisive game, but Boston owner James McAleer convinced manager Jake Stahl into starting rookie Buck O'Brien, who didn't get word that he would start until game day. Unfortunately, he had done some heavy drinking the night before. The decision caused the players and fans to murmur, "The fix is in." The Giants roughed O'Brien up for five runs in the first inning and went on to win, 5-2.

Wood started the following game, but suspiciously allowed six runs on 13 pitches in the first inning before he was relieved. The Giants went out to win 11-4 and tie the series at three games a piece.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written account of the World Series as it was a century ago
Not your ordinary sports read. The author, Mike Vaccaro gives the reader a real sense of the context of the series and the times in general. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Thomas N. Connors
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Classic
How would you like to be Mike Vaccaro's eye doctor about now?

The New York Post sports columnist obviously put in a ton of work inspecting microfilm when it came to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by WDX2BB
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic about the Fall Classic
Excellent read about an amazing series. It was fun to read the details about the players and the games. Again, excellent.
Published 12 months ago by RKW
5.0 out of 5 stars Interest holding account of a forgotten milestone
It is always difficult to write a compelling account of an event in which there is a necessity to build suspense for a known outcome. However, Mike Vaccaro has manged to do so. Read more
Published 15 months ago by John Soroka
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Fall Classic
Those not only enough to have been there in 1903 will treasure this book. It brings that long-ago classic to life.
Published 15 months ago by Nicholas P. Curran
4.0 out of 5 stars Snodgrass didn't deserve the blame
Good history about a great world series. Smoking joe woods could have been the best pitcher of all times 34-5 for season and won 3 games in series...threw his arm out that year.. Read more
Published on May 11, 2013 by Andrew Garrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it 1912?
I admit. My knowledge of the early 20th century Red Sox is limited. Some of it's not my fault. There's not a lot of information that has survived. Read more
Published on July 31, 2012 by Section36
4.0 out of 5 stars A "True Classic"
Great story ,well told. I sure miss the "GOOD OLD DAYS" Can you play the infield with those gloves? And no Sunday games, noted gamblers in the stands,and "JFK's" grandfather... Read more
Published on April 1, 2012 by K. Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball Writing at its Finest
If you love baseball, especially its history, "The First Fall Classic" is a must-read. Not only is it an interesting snapshot of a time period in American history, both on the... Read more
Published on August 29, 2010 by Celtia
4.0 out of 5 stars When baseball was new
This book chronicles one of the first "big events" in professional sports, the 1912 World Series. While not the first, it was the first to generate huge excitement, bringing... Read more
Published on July 3, 2010 by Amazon Customer
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