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The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, and the Pitching Duel of the Century Paperback – April 1, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Instead of focusing solely on a single game-even though the author and others have dubbed the July 1963, 16-inning duel between Marichal and Spahn "the greatest game ever pitched"-Kaplan undertakes a tripartite biography of both pitchers and their famous match-up. That may have been the perfect pitch to Kaplan's publisher, but on paper, the Sports Illustrated veteran swings and largely misses. The narrative darts between Marichal, Spahn, the big game, and the many less-significant games that led up to the famous four-hour affair at pitcher-friendly Candlestick Park. In fact, Kaplan seems to devote fewer time to this game-renowned for both hurlers going the distance without relief-than he does to exploring the plight of Latino ballplayers in the 1960s and the impact of pitch counts on modern-day baseball. Not that this is such a bad thing; this game would never happen today and the author skillfully explains why. Kaplan also breaks from typical sportswriter prose, drawing comparisons between Spahn's final years and a late scene in Shakespeare's "King Lear," for instance, and mostly overcomes his zig-zagging structure.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Triumph Books; Reprint edition (April 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600788211
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600788215
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just took THE GREATEST GAME EVER PITCHED out of the library and now plan to purchase it. What a great and well written story!! As an avid NY/SF Giants fan (especially SF due to my age), saw a synopsis of this book in the New York Post and it quickly interested me. The story is not only an inning by inning account of the game, but an account of both Marichal's and Spahn's lives. We can see how both pitchers got to this point in their careers. Marichal's brilliant career just beginning , a pitching neophyte who would record the first 20 win season in which he would win 20 or more six out of the next seven years. At age 25, 1963, would be only his third full season in the majors with the Giants. Spahn's illustrious career was near the end at age 42. Still a master, he would go on to win 23 games in his last great year. Spahn would pitch till the age of 44 but mustered only 13 total wins his last 2 years before retiring.
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On July 2, 1963, 42-year-old lefty Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves hooked up with 25-year-old right-hander Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants in a 16-inning, 4-hour and 10-minute marathon that ended with the Giants winning 1-0 when Willie Mays homered.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
When you think of Major League Baseball's Greatest Game ever pitched, you probably think of Don Larsen's perfect game no-hitter in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Yet while Larsen's incomparable gem is surely the most famous pitching performance ever by an individual, in the game's long and grand history one other game equally stands out for epic pitching -- a not-as-famous 1963 duel between Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn at Candlestick Park in which the two men threw a combined 31 2/3 innings of shutout ball before Willie Mays ended it with a solo homer with two out in the bottom of the 16th to give the San Francisco Giants a 1-0 victory.
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.
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