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The Long Ball: The Summer of '75 -- Spaceman, Catfish, Charlie Hustle, and the Greatest World Series Ever Played Paperback – April 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
There's something about a good baseball yarn that brings out a writer's childlike enthusiasm; in this case, Adelman's gusto makes this account of the legendary 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox at once a joy and a bit of a pain to read. Adelman's retelling of one of baseball's greatest showdowns goes in so many different directions that the reader is sometimes hard put to relax and enjoy it; skipping between teams, players and games with the ferocity of a suicide squeeze, Adelman jumps from Casey Stengel to Steve Garvey with a story about a missed steal sign thrown by Don Zimmer as a segue. He tosses in bits about players' personal lives, too-Johnny Bench's rocky marriage to an Ultra Brite model; Mickey Mantle's nightmares; Luis Tiant's longing for his family in Cuba-for added color. And he still manages to depict in gripping detail the split-second decisions of legends like Pete Rose, Sparky Anderson, the elder Bonds and Griffey, Billy Martin, Johnny Bench and Yaz-uncovering some great inside stories and little-known anecdotes along the way. Also, 1975 was the year free agency came to baseball, when Catfish Hunter challenged the indentured servitude practiced by the owners and won, later becoming the game's first free agent and signing with (who else?) the Yankees. It signaled the end of the era of players being contractually bound to one team and ushered in the high-priced bidding wars that are now the hallmark of the sport. While Adelman doesn't explore the advent of free agency nearly as much as he could, choosing instead to analyze pitching decisions and the positioning of the second baseman on a hopper up the middle, he's still written a thoroughly enjoyable baseball book. 16 pages b&w photos
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
""A very fine book that transcends the box-score mentality of so much sportswriting....THE LONG BALL "gives you great seats, with plenty of dugout passes thrown in, to experience the majors when player allegiances weren't ephemeral and television wasn't tyrannical....Adelman has plenty to relay about what was going on off the field as well as on it."
Top customer reviews
Tom Adelman addresses this theme from a whole different perspective. Although the title "The Long Ball" seems, at first glance to be a misnomer, the author focusses on the the two teams that will be fated to share the World Series in 1975.
The Big Red Machine will move on to become a dynasty, with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion. But the Red Sox are a more interesting team. With "El Tiante", Luis Tiant, the Cuban born ace of the the staff, who would and could take a post game shower with a lit cigar in his mouth, Pudge Fisk, and Bill Lee, maybe the most quotably hilarious ballplayer to ever lace up the spikes, this group lends itself to reams of readable material.
But Tom Adelman does not stop here. He plumbs the history of the Yankees, and pulls Casy Stengel into this fine story, Billy Martin, as his disciple, and Yogi Berra, as another of his minions. No story about baseball in the 1970's can be complete without Charlie Finley. Love him or hate him, and there are those who move in either direction, he was a force to be reckoned with.
But it is the World Series, arguably the greatest ever, that comes to dominate this story. The drama, the personalities, and the strategy are a story that begged to be told.
Adelman often inserts subtle whimsical narrative into the baseball retelling. "Dave Chalk, the Angels second baseman was erased in the double play." I am sure newspapers have reported it this way numerous times, but it still made me chuckle.
An enjoyable, breezy, and somewhat profound take on baseball of a couple generations ago.
I thought the author did an excellent job of describing the seven games of the World Series and refreshing my memory on many of the key plays and heroes that I remembered from following this Series as a teenager.
The rest of the book, chronicling various elements of the season and key developments in baseball in 1975 (and not just the seasons of the Red Sox and the Reds), was not nearly as enjoyable. I frequently found myself questioning the "flow" of the book and the relevance of topics that were being discussed. I suppose the author had a broader agenda than just focusing on the World Series and how the two teams got there -- but I felt that the first half of the book (before the World Series description) was often confusing and the writing style awkward in many places.
I would recommend the book -- but one might consider skipping straight to the write-up of the playoffs and World Series. I don't think one would really miss all that much.