19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2009
This book may be a little too technical for the casual baseball fan, but if you know and love the game, and want to learn a little more about the nuts and bolts of pitching and hitting, this is a great read. It's not great baseball literature like Roger Angell, or the best of Roger Kahn, more of an informal conversation between two hall-of-famers and World Series greats. It's a wealth of information about how the game is played, and more importantly, how it should be played.
What makes it great is that there are a lot of fascinating anecdotes from both Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson interspersed with the technical stuff. Both men talk at some length about their early years in the game, and what they had to go through coming up as young black players in the 50's (Gibson) and 60's (Jackson). I already had great respect for Gibson, but have even more after reading this book. I wasn't as enamored of Reggie Jackson, but after reading Sixty Feet, Six Inches, I have new respect for him as well. Any serious student of baseball and baseball history would thoroughly enjoy this book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
If a World Series were on the line, who would I want to pitch and who would I want to hit? For me, there is no question that Bob Gibson would pitch. And Reggie is one of handful of truly great post-season hitters I would want at the plate (his peers include Gehrig, Ruth, Aaron, George Brett, Manny Ramirez, Clemente, Foxx, and Jeter). Bringing these two great players together to talk baseball is a stroke of genius, particularly given their very different personalities.
Given Reggie's overbearing personality, loud talk, and insecurities, and given the nature of baseball as a team game, I was not a fan of Reggie until the end of his great post-season run. It was only when he single-handedly beat the Brewers in Game 5 of the 1981 special division series did it finally dawn on me: how many times does this guy have to put a team on his back and carry it before you appreciate him as a great player? And all of the literature that has come down since then does tend to confirm that Reggie was a good team-mate. This book will also help raise Reggie in your esteem. He was a careful student of the game.
Gibson is Gibson, and this book conveys his enormous heart, skill, and fierce competitiveness. Gibson is sometimes criticized as a bean-baller, but this book does a good job of rebutting this and conveying Gibson's point of view. Gibson owned the outside of the plate. To do that he could not let players lean over the inside, and he had no problem with the brushback.
Gibson and Reggie speak eloquently on their struggles against racism in the 60s and 70s. It's not possible to understand these two without the context provided by these struggles.
It is a testament to Gibson's honesty that Gibson admits he "doesn't know" whether he would have taken steroids during the 90s. If batters were doing it and other pitchers were doing it, how else do you compete? This sentiment explains exactly why so many got caught up with performance enhancing drugs -- including someone as fundamentally decent as Andy Pettite or as Bob Gibson for that matter had he been born 30 years later.
Lots of inside baseball stuff for the true baseball aficionado -- but also interesting for the more casual fan.
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson are both world-class Hall-of-Famers that need no introduction, and anything they offer on baseball is worth paying attention to - up to a point. The problem with "Sixty Feet, Six Inches," a tale of the game between the pitcher and the hitter, is that there are only so many ways to tell this story. Hitters need strength and big hands, good hand-eye coordination, good eyesight that can even read the spin on the ball, and the ability to wait out bad pitches. Pitchers need arm speed, control, and a variety of offerings. Both Gibson and Jackson agree on the importance of constant practice, that getting ahead in the count is the most important part of being a good hitter or pitcher, that it is more important to respect each other as team players than to like each other, and that the psychological aspect of the contest between pitcher and batter, though sometimes overlooked, is also important. Nothing earth-shattering there.
Nonetheless, it was still quite interesting to read Reggie's explaining how he went about achieving a psychological advantage through dictating the timing to get the pitcher out of his rhythm and sense of control, but not mad enough to get thrown at. (Gibson denies he would ever throw at a batter for psychological harassment.) Jackson would also try to intimidate the pitcher by looking at him - this, however, he admits didn't work with the best pitchers. Gibson responded that pitchers might play the same psychological game - shaking off pitches just to annoy batters, even though he did prefer to get into a timing routine and finish the game within two hours. Gibson also wouldn't talk to opposing hitters or pitch vs. National league teams in spring training - he wanted to remain a mystery.
On steroids, Jackson says he would not have used them, Gibson says 'maybe.' Both are amazed at how useful slow-motion digital films are in analyzing oneself for improvement, though not so useful for analyzing competitors. Finally, they both also agree that pitchers aren't as good as they used to be - Gibson believes it is partly due to their not getting enough practice when young. (Too many other things to do.) Lowering the mound 5 inches didn't help either.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2013
Structured in the format of a conversation between two of the greatest ballplayers ever, Sixty Feet, Six Inches is a master class in anything and everything baseball. This is one of the more insightful, interesting books baseball books I've read in recent years.
There is a bit too much of a mutual admiration society thing going on and certainly plenty of "things were better back in our day" kinds of comments, but that's probably to be expected. Where else can you get two great Hall of Famers offering opinions on the game, and its players, then and now?
This is a book that baseball fans won't want to miss.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
Incredible discussion between two of the most knowledgeable, accomplished, and thoughtful people to have ever played the game. I was never a fan of either but there is a lot to these two. Both dealt with a lot of racism and learned to use it as motivation. Reggie Jackson was a star athlete brought up in Philadelphia by a father who taught him confidence, discipline, and hard work. There is a great story in here about Jackson being terrified that his father would tell George Steinbrenner that the father had found an empty beer can in Reggie's car during spring training. Another story made me stop and think. After a minor league game in Birmingham, Coach Paul Bryant told Reggie he was the kind of n-boy that we need in Alabama. After forty years of thinking about that, Reggie realized that the ancient coach was paying him a compliment in his own way.
Bob Gibson was a star pitcher before my time. He is remembered for being ornery, throwing inside, hitting batters during his time with the Cardinals. Unlike Jackson, Gibson played for only one team, missed out on the big paydays of free agency, even played for the Harlem Globetrotters in the off-season to put food on the table. Here we learn that he did all this, even refusing to talk to the other team, so that they would not gain any insight into his ability or approach.
Reading this I imagined that I had obtained a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend an evening at the hotel in Cooperstown and hear what the stars really think and did.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"Sixty Feet, Six Inches" is a spellbinding dialogue about baseball between two of the game's greatest, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson. Gibson gives the perspective from the mound, while Jackson gives the view from the plate. This book immerses the reader into the game to a depth that few have never known. For a casual baseball fan like me, the finer points of the game hold the interest from start to finish. Listening to them both orate on the importance of the count, the type of pitch to throw or how to pick the right pitch to hit shows the baseball to be much more of a mind game than I had ever imagined.
After leading the reader through strategy and tactics, the two stars express their views on a variety of factors affecting the national pastime. We hear their views on the stars they faced, umpires, fans, owners, managers, the press, free agency, the reserve clause, salaries, race, steroids and changes in the game since their playing days, just to name a few.
This is a great book for any baseball fan. Bob and Reggie obviously have a high respect for each other. There are no dirty secrets revealed here. It is like sitting in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown during induction week, eavesdropping on the greats as they share old times. Don't miss it. Pick up and read.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2009
I am a casual fan. I like the game, but don't care much which team is playing.
This book is an excellent training book that gives you the inside scoop on what the pitcher is trying to do and how he does it and how the batter plans his attacks against the pitcher. Understanding their plans makes watching a game much more enjoyable.
This book should be required reading for any aspiring player. The two retired players share their thoughts about specific players in occasionally brutal detail.
I don't rate it at a five level because sometimes the two guys go on and on and on. Sometimes I wished they would just take the walk instead of repeatedly fouling off their ideas.
But overall, I strongly reccommend it to anyone who wants to more deeply understand what they are seeing during the game.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2010
To the casual fan, the duel between a pitcher and an opposing batter seems mundane. The pitcher tries to throw his best pitch and the hitter tries to make solid contact to reach base safely. Historically, the pitcher wins these match-ups well over 70% of the time; yet in game situations, those odds mean nothing. This is where the crucial strategies are engaged, and greatness is now measured by how well each player handles the pressure.
Two Hall of Fame greats, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson have collaborated on a fascinating perspective of what really goes on between the sixty feet, six inches that separates pitcher from batter. In a most engaging and entertaining manner, we are treated to the entire thought process that goes on in the minds of the great hurler and the great slugger, with each at bat; with each pitch. The end result is a unique perspective from a couple of outspoken superstars, and their recollections will entertain and inform, in a way that's rarely been captured.
Perhaps this will debunk the myth that Gibson was a ruthless head-hunter; an angry competitor who seemed to despise the opposing batter. Not really; certainly Gibby took umbrage to anyone violating a certain code of conduct when batting against him; rarely did that happen. For the most part, he went about his business, trying to set the batter up in a strategic manner to expedite his trip back to the bench. Usually, that meant keeping his pitches out of the hitter's "wheel house"; low and away, with varying degrees of velocity or break to the pitches. If he felt the hitter was taking the liberty to predict this course of action too frequently, Gibby would deliver a wake up call with a screaming fastball well inside.
Jackson, of course, was no slouch at the plate; especially when the spotlight was on in key situations. They didn't call him Mr October for nothing. His thought process was well devised and quite successful over the years. When he outfoxed the opposing battery, the results were usually tape measure shots to another zip code. At times, he'd concede a certain portion of the plate to look for a pitch he could handle; one he could extend his powerful arms and take a healthy cut.
The only regret baseball fans might have is that these two legendary performers never faced each other during regular season or post season play. There may have been a time or two when they squared off during an All-Star Game, but alas, when the real competition ensued, each player performed their October magic against other foes.
This particular work is as close as it gets to big time pressure situations, and for any true fan of the game, it's certainly worth the price of admission.
on January 26, 2014
I enjoyed this book for the stories and recollection of other players of their era, and their opinions on some of the modern guys. I could give or take the "way the game is supposed to be played" stuff. I feel like if you are reading a book like this, you probably are pretty familiar with the way it was, the way it is, and a lot of the unwritten rules that get discussed in this book. What I think is the real selling point to this book is listening to Gibson talk about how he attacked certain hitters or Jackson's approach at the play and how it would change against certain pitchers he had a history with or in certain situations. It never ceases to amaze me the memories guys can have. Gibson never fails to mention how much confidence he had in his fastball and how much he would prefer to never have to give Hank Aaron one to hit. The appeal of this book really lies in these specific stories, and memories of situations more so than any discussion of the "way it ought to be."
I would say that this would be an incredible series to do with other players from other eras. Jackson and Gibson were all about power. Hitting for power and pitching with power. I would love to juxtapose this with say A Maddux and Gwynn talking about the same thing. Each were also a master of their craft, but achieved the mastery in an entirely different way than Jackson and Gibson. Maddux couldn't reach back and find 96 like Gibson and Gwynn didn't have 500 foot homerun power like Jackson. To compare their approaches to the way they approached the game and to mix in stories about players from a different era would take this, the original, and any sequel to another level.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2009
How much fun would it be to read an account of Cy Young sitting down and talking about the pitcher/hitter battle with Ty Cobb? Or Warren Spahn with Ted Williams? We don't have any such account, but we do have Bob Gibson talking with Reggie Jackson! This book will only grow in importance over the years.
For those of us who remember Reggie's and Bob's playing career, this is a wonderfully vivid reminder. For those who do not, it will paint a detailed portrait of who they are and show why, even among vastly talented athletes, intelligence and will power decide true excellence.
The final pages on current issues is the weakest part of the book, showing that even these guys don't have much light to shed on steroids, pitch counts or the current gut of statistics. I suppose these issues had to be discussed, in the interest of full coverage.
The battle between hitter and pitcher is the ultimate baseball battle. These two warriors share with the reader how they survived the war so long and with so many victories.