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Red Sox Century: The Definitive History of the World's Most Storied Franchise Hardcover – September 15, 2000
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Oh, to be a Red Sox fan. It is a mark of the singular angst that attends the territory that the four retired numbers--9 (Ted Williams), 4 (Joe Cronin), 1 (Bobby Doerr), and 8 (Carl Yastrzemski)--taunt the faithful every game from their perch on Fenway's right-field facade; they precisely correspond to the date--September 4, 1918--that the Sox won their last World Series title. Less than two years later, owner Harry Frazee would sell his star pitcher and outfielder, Babe Ruth, to the Yankees, and the curse of the Bambino would take hold of Boston hearts.
From Cy Young to Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez, this is a franchise full of myth and history--the first to win a World Series and the last to cross the color line--and, contend authors Glenn Stout, the series editor of the annual Best American Sportswriting volume, and Richard A. Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum of New England, the most interesting franchise in the history of the game. Their splendid, fully illustrated chronicle, rich with anecdotes, of the club from 1901 to the present makes it hard to argue with the assessment. The Sox have always been interesting--as well as frustrating, enigmatic, contradictory, and thrilling, and Red Sox Century touches all of those bases. This is an exhaustively researched history, but it's also a fan's book, filled with affection and exasperation. Stout and Johnson effectively pepper their narrative with personal reflections and observations from writers such as Peter Gammons, Dan Shaughnessy, and Elizabeth Dooley. They also pick a Red Sox all-century team, make a fine case for Pedro's '99 season as the best ever for a pitcher, compile some requisite stats, and assemble the most complete Sox bibliography ever. About the only thing they don't supply is a good parking place near Fenway. --Jeff Silverman
From Publishers Weekly
In this richly illustrated history, sports writers Stout and Johnson argue that the Boston Red Sox are the most interesting franchise to have played the game of baseball, an ambitious and somewhat far-fetched thesis since the team has not won a World Series title in almost 82 years. As evidence, the authors offer up the most comprehensive chronicle of the team's life to date, from its creation in 1901 and its glory days in the teens to its thrilling but exasperating losses in the World Series of 1946, 1975 and 1986. Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Roger Clemens and even Pedro Martinez are all colorfully profiled, as are the men who have owned and managed the team over the years. Of special interest are the fans themselves, who, the authors argue, are unique in their fatalistic, frequently bitter, but doggedly loyal devotion to their team. But as reverent toward the Red Sox as Stout and Johnson may be, they eschew the sentimentality and nostalgia so prevalent in baseball writing today. They provide a revisionist account of the legendary sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, and boil down the mythical "Curse of the Bambino," which is thought to have resulted from that transaction, to nothing more than a "convenient excuse." Stout and Johnson's book is honest, well written and rigorously researched, which will make it accessible to fans of any ball club. Their contention that Boston's is the most interesting team, however, will be a tough sell to anyone living beyond the borders of Massachusetts. 225 b&w photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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What a dissapointment. The authors could not have made it more obvious that their goal was not to replicate the quality of the earlier essays, which were wonderful, but to whip out a quickie edition with a few extra pages and a splashy cover ASAP, before baseball had moved on from the Red Sox's epic comeback and the breaking of the curse.
Some examples: the Sox's 3-game sweep of the Angels that year is "covered" in exactly ONE SENTENCE. Almost seven pages are used to cover the Sox-Yankees series, and these seven pages are really the only reason to buy this edition if you already have an older one. Even here, however, there's evidence that the main goal was speed, not accuracy: we are told that in Game Seven, "Timlin and then Foulke closed down the game." Of course, Foulke didn't pitch in Game 7- it should read Timlin and then EMBREE.
As to the coverage of the World Series, the less said the better (and that was certainly this book's philosophy.) it's covered in just ten paragraphs- with only one paragraph each used to cover Games 2, 3 and 4. Compared to the book's excellent coverage of the 1946, 1975 and 1986 contests, the slap-dash get-it-to-print coverage of 2004 is quite glaring.
So if you don't already have an older edition, buy this book- for the amazingly in-depth coverage of Red Sox history up to 2003. But if you have an older edition, do NOT buy this book because of the 2004 World Series coverage. Because there really isn't any.
Oh, but it DOES come with a nice little "World Series Diary" which allows you to record where you were during each game- kind of pointless considering it came out six months after the fact- which I guess beats actual writing in terms of cost containment and getting it to press.