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The Pitch That Killed Paperback – December 23, 2003
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Splendidly researched and vivid as today....Remarkable. (Roger Kahn)
The best baseball book no one has read. (ESPN the Magazine)
Sowell did a masterful job of research in bringing to life the incident and all the things that were going on in baseball then. (Phil Tatman Orlando Sentinel)
Sowell twirls tragedy with triumph in a thoroughly engaging manner and delivers a book as captivating as it is well-written. (Mark Luce Chicago Tribune)
…An outstanding book…. In short, one hell of a year, which Sowell captures perfectly. (Mudville)
A 2004 Best bet.... Glorious and horrifying baseball book. (Poughkeepsie Journal)
A fascinating study of the circumstances behind the only time a major leaguer was ever killed by a pitched ball. (Baseball Book Survey)
Sowell's outstanding book tells the story of both men and of the thrilling pennant race that followed Chapman's death. (Golfdom)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This event is mentioned in passing whenever someone is seriously hurt by a pitch. It is not, however, a well-chronicled event in the long history of the game. So it's good to see Michael Sowell give this story the attention it deserves in this fascinating book.
The book is written as a dual biography of Chapman and Mays. It could be called a triple biography, because Joe Sewell, Chapman's rookie replacement, is also prominently featured.
However, the book covers much more than these three men and the events directly concerning the fatal pitch. Sowell captures the flavor of the dead-ball era. But as Mays and Chapman approach their destiny, change is in the air. 1920 was the greatest turning point in baseball history. In that year:
The Red Sox sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Ruth set a new home run record with 54. (The old one was 29.)
Chapman is killed by Mays.
The Black Sox scandal breaks.
Kennesaw Landis becomes the first commissioner of baseball.
The spitball is banned, and dirty baseballs are removed from play.
All of this is in the story.
Chapman, by the way, was popular. Mays was not, even before the fateful day. As for the details of the pitch that killed, I will leave you in suspense...
Amazingly, this tale has not been dramatized. Why not? This story has many ideal elements for the big screen:
* We have a tragic hero, a triumphant hero and a villain, yet none are well known.
* The villain plays for the Yankees.Read more ›
Sowell manages to transport the reader back to the period in which the story takes place (1910s and 1920s), while still allowing the tale to play out without clutter or unnecessary writing. Unlike the many one-dimensional portrayals of Mays included in other works, Sowell paints him as a complex character, a great pitcher who obviously battled some emotional issues. The death of Chapman doesn't need to be dressed up to be heartbreaking, and Sowell presents the situation in a straightforward manner.
From the first page to the end of the book, it's difficult to find fault with anything. Just a compelling story told by a great writer, this is a book that any fan of baseball should read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It sounds like a good guys vs bad guys in an old John Wayne western. Only this time it's about baseball in the 1920's and the bean ball and neither the pitcher nor the batter are... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marvin P. Ferguson
Excellent details about various games and personalities . Great for history and baseball lovers. And about beliefs of that eraPublished 1 month ago by Dulcinea
It's tough to bring baseball's past to life so the real accomplishment here isn't just the story line of the tragedy but the illustrative way the author was able to make us relate... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Andy Dabilis
I thought this book was well written and gave a lot of insight into the period, the players , and what baseball was like in the 1920's. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pinstripes
Such a tragic story --- mistaken machismo in the non use of safety equipment.Published 2 months ago by CommissionerK
An interesting and informative account of the incident and the men involved. It gets a little cumbersome when describing the pennant race, going into play by play detail that... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Herschel T. Cozine
This is a very enjoyable, easy-to-read book,with several stories wrapped up in one. At it's heart is the death of Ray Chapman, the Cleveland Indians star shortstop, hit on the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by cuzzin brucie