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The Best Team Ever - A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Cubs Paperback – August 15, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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About the Author

Alan Alop is a lawyer in Chicago, where he is a Deputy Director of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. He and his son Jim are long-suffering Cubs fans. Alan remains entranced by the game of baseball.

Doc Noel was chosen to play shortstop for the 1959 and 1960 All Star Teams of the Skokie Indians Little League in Illinois, and was elected to the 2002 National Adult Baseball Association (NABA) All Stars in Sacramento, California. He enjoys his career in health promotion, but continues to play, manage, watch and write and speak about baseball. Playing catch with his sons Andrew and Adam is still a favorite pastime.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing Group; 1 edition (August 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935098020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935098027
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,203,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This book is a wondrous celebration of the quintessential American sport. The authors have brilliantly infused the story of one baseball season with a related tale of murder and revenge, giving life to the characters on one of baseball's greatest teams and the many dangerous and intriguing currents which defined Chicago a century ago. This delightful book surpasses nearly all baseball novels I have read by creatively using parallel stories to bring home the reality of the "dead ball" era in baseball with the gritty stuff of life in the big city, with its corruption, chicanery, villians, and heroes.
The writing is superb and wide-ranging. Lovers of baseball will delight in lyrical passages which are reminiscent of scenes from the movie Field of Dreams. The locker room banter and the character descriptions are authentic and engaging. One of the great strengths of the book is the scene setting, such that the reader feels part of the action, on and off the field. Nearly everyone who loves baseball will enjoy this book and absolutely everyone who loves both baseball and Chicago will love this story, told by guys who obviously love both.
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Baseball is supposed to be honest, pure, the American pastime . . . "The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Cubs" is a story of the legendary season of the Chicago Cubs. A work of historical fiction, it brings conflict onto the success story as the city of Chicago changes with the turn of the century and all of the corruption hat comes with it. The epic season serving as a unique backdrop for a story, "The Best Team Ever" uses the old to provide something new, recommended.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book from a number of levels.

Exhaustive research provides unparalleled insight to early 20th Century Chicago and its unchecked rowdiness complete with a cast of characters including the city's charlatans, its serious as well as petty criminals and its heroes. Feeling completely absorbed into the fabric of life in wild 1907 Chicago, by itself, will engage any reader.

The plot connects the city and its time in history, its villans, its victims and its heroes, and of course, its magnificient 1907 Chicago Cubs. The plot is intriguing, full of twists and surprises, and is what it is intended to be - pure entertainment!

The binding glue of the book is the diary of the Cubs high-potential rookie southpaw, Kid Durbin, a young guy coming of age who shares with the reader his love for the game of baseball, his awe of the amazing Cubs and his first serious romance. It would be criminal to say much more about the plot or Kid's rookie year, but the diary, by itself, is a just a fun read!

What Alan Alop and Doc Noel have created with Kid Durbin's diary is an extra seat on the bench for the reader. In my case, to say that I felt like I was on the bench watching player/manager Frank Chance up close drive the players for every ounce of commitment to every play, every pitch and every at bat is not an exaggeration. Tinker, Evers and Chance become real people in the Best Team Ever. And so do all the other key players.

I really liked The Field of Dreams, but I really loved The Best Team Ever.
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I do not know if I enjoyed this book more as a history book, a baseball book or a Cubs book, as it certainly does a superb job in all three areas. Dr. Alop has created a work that balances its entertainment value with information of substance. All-in-all a very enjoyable read.
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This novel lets the statistics speak for themselves in their contention that "largely due to a great pitching staff, this team was the best ever." During the season, their opponents only scored 370 runs. The team's ERA for the 1908 season was "a phenomenal 1.73, the lowest team ERA in baseball history. Five out of the top six lowest individual ERAs in 1907 were by Cubs..." The team finished the season seventeen games ahead of runner-up Pittsburgh, and went on to win the World Series handily against Detroit. Chicago won four games, Detroit none, and one game was called a tie after darkness ended play. Apart from the tie game, the Cubs allowed only three Detroit runs. Four team members made the Hall of Fame (Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance). 1907 was the high point in a great run of National League pennants for the Cubs that also included 1906, 1908, and 1910.

But this book is not about the statistics or even about a play-by-play analysis of key games. Pay attention to what follows the colon, because Best Team Ever is at least as much about Chicago as it is about the 1907 Cubs. It does what books about baseball so rarely do-convey a real sense of what it was like to be a member of that team, during those times, and in that place. No doubt, we can expect more novels from Chicago a century ago. The combination of burgeoning growth, colorful politics and unsolved crimes is a rich one. Let's hope that, one glorious day, a novel about the heyday of the Chicago Cubs will find a more contemporary setting.
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Alan Alop and Doc Noel present a fictional view of the Cubs from January 11 to December 30 in 1907. Part of the story is related in the journal entries of little used rookie pitcher Kid Durbin, who adds a couple of postscripts in 1966 and 2004 (the latter at the age of 118). An omniscient narrator reports on the rest of the action, which includes low-life incidents of a Chicago criminal and the dubious behavior of Cub players--including a visit to Storyville in New Orleans during the Practice Season. The Cubs were immortalized by the poem featuring the doubleplay combo of Tinker-to-Evers-to Chance, but it was the pitching (primarily of Pfiester, Lundgren, Brown, Overall, and Reulbach that produced a 1.73 team ERA) which resulted in a seventeen game winning margin in the National League and a World Series victory. The novel was published too late in 2008 to be included in "The Baseball Novel: A History and Annotated Bibliography," but it would have been a contender for the Best Novel List.
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