- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (September 8, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0151004412
- ISBN-13: 978-0151004416
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,965,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Head Game: Baseball Seen from the Pitcher's Mound Hardcover – September 8, 2000
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Inside the great expanse of a ballgame is the essential core of what Roger Kahn, one of the national pastime's most esteemed chroniclers, calls "chess at 90 miles per hour." That core, of course, is the duel between pitcher and hitter. At its best--which is where Kahn wants to play--it's as cerebral, complex, and psychological a contest as exists in sports, hence the title of this fascinating exploration of how baseball's basic confrontation, told from the pitcher's perspective, has evolved over time.
Drawing from his vast knowledge and long experience, Kahn parses the battle from every angle, dissecting the wizardry of hurlers both ancient--Candy Cummings, Hoss Radbourn, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson--and modern--Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Bruce Sutter, Tom Glavine. It is vintage Kahn--he manages to mix personal memoir with astute analysis. He examines tangibles, such as the height of the mound, and intangibles, such as the fear factor carried by every pitch, without ever taking his eye off the ball. And he's not above a few laughs and surprises. When he makes out his subjective list of the best pitchers of all time, he naturally includes Matty, Koufax, and Warren Spahn, but he also throws in a guy named Jerry Solovey. Jerry who? Kahn tells us he played in the low minors. So why's he here? "He could," Kahn admits, "almost always get me out." Like an able hurler, Kahn knows how to mix it up. He's got enough command as a writer to know how--and when--to bounce an occasional curveball or scroogie in the dirt for effect. --Jeff Silverman
From Publishers Weekly
Meticulous research about baseball's early days combined with interviews of prominent modern-day hurlers form this lively look at the evolution of pitching. Kahn (The Boys of Summer, etc.) follows the development of such pitches as the curve ball, the slider and the split-finger fastball, and he profiles several successful pitchers, beginning with Hoss Radbourn, who started 68 games in 1883, completed 66 and posted a win-loss record of 49 and 25. Those are amazing numbers compared to pitching standards in 2000 when most pitchers don't start more than 30 games and 20 wins combined with four or five complete games is considered an outstanding season. Kahn devotes the largest section to Christy Mathewson, who pitched for the New York Giants at the turn of the century, won 373 games and threw 80 shutouts. His most impressive feat, however, came early in his career, when, in the 1905 World Series, Mathewson pitched three shutouts in six days. Mathewson is clearly Kahn's favorite pitcher: he ranks him as the best pitcher of all time. Kahn also allots a considerable amount of space to the debate about the effectiveness and morality of the brush-back or knockdown pitch, a particularly relevant topic in light of Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens's beaning of Mets catcher Mike Piazza this summer. Kahn's love and knowledge of baseball is evident throughout this latest work in his baseball oeuvre, and his many fans will be especially pleased by his examination of the head game. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Perhaps the most interesting statement in the book is in the back when he said, "If I start [Allie] Reynolds and finish with [Bruce] Sutter, I might defeat any team the Hall of Fame can field." This is a fascinating comment particularly since neither Sutter nor Reynolds is in the Hall. Allie Reynolds is all but forgotten his career ending in the 1950s with the NY Yankees. He started, pitched mid relief, long relief, and was what we would call a closer. Whitey Ford called him the most intimidating pitcher he ever saw. Sutter was born when Reynolds career was ending. He didn't invent the splitter, but he made them most of it.
Not quite what I expected. Maybe I was looking for a little more technical info about and how pitchers thought. Still there is a great deal to get from the book, not the least of which is that Christy Matthewson was a helluva pitcher. And all the while Kahn is praising the thinking done by the pitcher I kept thinking of Ted Williams' observation that most pitchers were hardheaded and dumb. Some of these pitchers might have thought that way about hitters, too. Still it's a fun and informative read and Kahn as always is an outstanding writer.
Kahn really opened my eyes to the achievemnts of longtime Braves hurler Warren Spahn. Anyone who knows baseball history knows Spahnie" was a great left-hander, but this good? Wow.
This isn't just a book about why some pitchers were/are so great but it's also a fascinating look at the history of the game and how it affected the guys on the mound. Best of all, this was a "quick read" and "fun read."
Recommended for baseball fans at all levels.who are curious just what goes on inside the heads of famous pitchers, and want to get a few laughs along the way.