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The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, and the Pitching Duel of the Century Paperback – April 1, 2013
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About the Author
Jim Kaplan is the author of 19 books, including 13 on baseball as well as Historic America: New England, Lefty Grove: American Original, and Golden Years of Baseball. After three years of covering sports for the Minneapolis Star, he spent 16 years at Sports Illustrated then turned to freelance writing. He divides his time between Northampton and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. Greg Spahn is the only child of Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn and this is his first book. He lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the books greatest strengths is showing how the men worked their way up into having the Hall of Fame careers they had. Marichal's hard upbringing in the Dominican Republic is discussed in length. Marichal had to deal with prejudice against the Latino players which is vividly described in the book once he made the "bigs". This came from cities, players, and even his manager, Alvin Dark. Mr. Kaplan does a wonderful job detailing everything involved. Spahn's upbringing in Buffalo, NY, and his involvement in WW2, is broadly discussed as well. You get a real feeling about Spahn's roots. The book serves as biographies (particularly their early years) of the two competing champions.
The game itself is a great "blow by blow" view. In my opinion, it is done in the correct manner without all 16 innings being discussed one inning after another.Read more ›
Long before the days of pitch counts, Marichal and Spahn combined for an incredible 428 pitches (Marichal 227 and Spahn 201).
Giants manager Alvin Dark called it "the greatest game I've ever seen by two pitchers." Many fans and writers agreed with Dark.
Author Jim Kaplan concurs and writes that the game was "the ultimate extension of an admirable culture of complete game pitching that would eventually erode."
Although Kaplan writes that the book is a "dual biography with the magical game that links these greats woven through the text like a river flowing through time," I think it's much more of a dual biography. The events of the historic game are covered in probably about 10 pages in this book that barely tops 200 pages. There's actually little excitement or tension created by the account of the game, which appears in various sections of the book.
Spahn and Marichal are extremely interesting subjects in their own rights, but I felt somewhat cheated that the "greatest game ever pitched" was such a small part of the book. After all, the book is titled, "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched."
The game, however, seemed to be an excuse for Kaplan to write about Spahn and Marichal, who faced each other seven times during their careers. Marichal won six of the seven matchups.
To his credit, Kaplan fills the slim volume with lots of interesting facts about the two pitchers and paints vivid portraits of the Hall of Famers. He also refuses to bloat the book.
Any baseball fan should enjoy finding out more about Spahn (363 wins) and Marichal (243 wins), the eras they pitched in and the greatest game ever pitched.
In "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched," author Jim Kaplan, the former Sports Illustrated writer who has been deftly chronicling the sport since the 1970s, warmly revives that epic duel for those of us who somehow had missed or forgotten it. It was Spahn, then 42 and the winningest pitcher of the 1950s, vs. Marichal, then 25 and who would become the winningest pitcher of the 1960s, facing off inning after inning in what Kaplan describes as, "an era in which pride and professionalism trumped monetary motivation."
And along the way Kaplan weaves in the stories of these two Hall of Famers who also happen to be near mythical figures away from the diamond. Both, you will discover, survived near death experiences. Spahn, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and recipient of a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a battlefield commission, is among the most decorated ballplayers of World War II. Marichal, the first player from the Dominican Republic enshrined in Cooperstown, remains today a confidant of Dominican presidents, a philanthropist and a national symbol of pride.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There are many baseball books that focus in on one game to tell a broader tale, but quite possibly none better than this one. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Brian Maitland
This book doesn't work because Jim Kaplan takes a great story and then reduces it to a really disorganized mess. Read morePublished 10 months ago by R. C Sheehy
I loved the book.
My only qualm is Kaplan could have discussed the actually game in more detail.
This is a very good book, with lots of information on the backgrounds of the two pitchers and their teams. It's written in an interesting style, also. Read morePublished 14 months ago by William C Frey
This book features 2 of baseball's finest pitchers ever. Today's pitchers think they've done their job after 6 innings. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Chumley
There's good information here, and the writing itself is fine. The structure of the book, however, is pretty loose. Read morePublished on October 18, 2013 by Kanawha