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Sixty Feet, Six Inches: A Hall of Fame Pitcher & a Hall of Fame Hitter Talk About How the Game Is Played Hardcover – September 22, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In an inspired Major League pairing, all-star pitcher Gibson, 73, talks mechanics, psychology and culture with 63-year-old Reggie Jackson, one of the game's greatest hitters. Although they never faced each other on the field, they square off on everything from pitch counts and swing styles to catchers, managers and umpires, to clubhouse environments and media distractions. In lengthy discussions steered by author Wheeler (Gibson's autobiography collaborator), the two often turn conversational, sharing stories about Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, among others, but the book reads best when the duo discusses controversies: spitballers, hit batters, steroids, free agency and racism. Their egos and memories remain remarkably vivid; Gibson, who spent 17 years on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals, constantly cites his own stats, and Jackson, who won the World Series with both the A's and the Yankees, takes credit for Derek Jeter's success. Fans will come away from this discussion between greats with even greater understanding and appreciation for the game.


"If you want to understand baseball’s game inside the game between the pitcher and the hitter, this is it. Two of the greats have written a classic."
--Willie Mays

“Gibby and Reggie finally share their perspectives as two of the fiercest competitors who ever played the game. Trust me…It’s a great read.”
-- Joe Torre

“Wow! Knowledge and insight into the game for players, kids and the fans. Two of the game’s greatest under pressure: Mr. October and Bob Gibson. SIXTY FEET, SIX INCHES is fun, full of information and an easy read.”
--Mariano Rivera

“For the first time Mr. October joins Mr. October.  It doesn’t get much better than this.”
--Tim McCarver

 “For a baseball fan, this breezy book is like a giant box of popcorn–once you pick it up, you can’t put it down. Insight after insight from two of the most compelling figures in the game’s history.”
--Bob Costas

"Oh to be a fly on the wall. Here is an inside look from two of the greatest competitors ever to put on a major league uniform. Both have strong opinions about that magical 60' 6" space between the hitter and the pitcher -- and they have the stats to back it up."
--Tom Seaver.

“These conversations are usually only heard in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame weekends. Two giants of baseball discussing the game they love. This is a fun book!”
--Joe Morgan

“Love it. Two of the most dominating personalities in the game, one from each side of the plate. The pitcher from the defensive side and the hitter from the offensive side. Both of these Hall of Famers had dominating approaches and felt they controlled every aspect of their game. Intimidation with tremendous concentration. The authors had both. People sometimes don't understand the mind games and personal challenges that go on between the hitter and pitcher. It’s all right here. You have to have a great ego to compete and succeed at the challenge of hitting as well as pitching at the highest level. This is a fun read.  I recommend this book to all.”
-- Johnny Bench

“Two good friends got together to talk about the game we love in a book that makes you feel like you’re sitting on a couch and talking to two of the best to ever play the game. Ask a question and you get an answer. Great insight for the baseball fan or baseball player.”
-- George Brett

They wanted to pitch me in, I think. But I backed off the plate about four inches more than usual and leaned forward, so it wouldn’t look like I’d moved. I faked it to make it appear normal. That way, they’d go ahead and bring the ball in, but I was actually far enough from the plate that I could handle that pitch. It was the only time in my life I ever did that. I baited them into giving me inside strikes. Then as soon as they started throwing the ball I would just raise up . . .


Hitters who stand practically on top of the plate and don’t like the ball inside will still swing at a ball inside. Then they might back away a little bit for the next pitch, to give themselves some hitting room, and if you bring the ball a little further inside they’ll still swing at it because it looks the same to them as the last pitch. They don’t realize that they’re standing in a different spot. Their body didn’t get the memo from their brain. Now the plate’s a whole lot wider than it was, and there’s no way in the world that guy’s going to do anything with a good pitch on the outside corner, even if he’s looking for it. He’ll pop it up or roll it to the second baseman.
You’ve just got to know who you can do what to. That’s what pitching is.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528696
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book may be a little too technical for the casual baseball fan, but if you know and love the game, and want to learn a little more about the nuts and bolts of pitching and hitting, this is a great read. It's not great baseball literature like Roger Angell, or the best of Roger Kahn, more of an informal conversation between two hall-of-famers and World Series greats. It's a wealth of information about how the game is played, and more importantly, how it should be played.

What makes it great is that there are a lot of fascinating anecdotes from both Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson interspersed with the technical stuff. Both men talk at some length about their early years in the game, and what they had to go through coming up as young black players in the 50's (Gibson) and 60's (Jackson). I already had great respect for Gibson, but have even more after reading this book. I wasn't as enamored of Reggie Jackson, but after reading Sixty Feet, Six Inches, I have new respect for him as well. Any serious student of baseball and baseball history would thoroughly enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
If a World Series were on the line, who would I want to pitch and who would I want to hit? For me, there is no question that Bob Gibson would pitch. And Reggie is one of handful of truly great post-season hitters I would want at the plate (his peers include Gehrig, Ruth, Aaron, George Brett, Manny Ramirez, Clemente, Foxx, and Jeter). Bringing these two great players together to talk baseball is a stroke of genius, particularly given their very different personalities.

Given Reggie's overbearing personality, loud talk, and insecurities, and given the nature of baseball as a team game, I was not a fan of Reggie until the end of his great post-season run. It was only when he single-handedly beat the Brewers in Game 5 of the 1981 special division series did it finally dawn on me: how many times does this guy have to put a team on his back and carry it before you appreciate him as a great player? And all of the literature that has come down since then does tend to confirm that Reggie was a good team-mate. This book will also help raise Reggie in your esteem. He was a careful student of the game.

Gibson is Gibson, and this book conveys his enormous heart, skill, and fierce competitiveness. Gibson is sometimes criticized as a bean-baller, but this book does a good job of rebutting this and conveying Gibson's point of view. Gibson owned the outside of the plate. To do that he could not let players lean over the inside, and he had no problem with the brushback.

Gibson and Reggie speak eloquently on their struggles against racism in the 60s and 70s. It's not possible to understand these two without the context provided by these struggles.
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Format: Hardcover
Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson are both world-class Hall-of-Famers that need no introduction, and anything they offer on baseball is worth paying attention to - up to a point. The problem with "Sixty Feet, Six Inches," a tale of the game between the pitcher and the hitter, is that there are only so many ways to tell this story. Hitters need strength and big hands, good hand-eye coordination, good eyesight that can even read the spin on the ball, and the ability to wait out bad pitches. Pitchers need arm speed, control, and a variety of offerings. Both Gibson and Jackson agree on the importance of constant practice, that getting ahead in the count is the most important part of being a good hitter or pitcher, that it is more important to respect each other as team players than to like each other, and that the psychological aspect of the contest between pitcher and batter, though sometimes overlooked, is also important. Nothing earth-shattering there.

Nonetheless, it was still quite interesting to read Reggie's explaining how he went about achieving a psychological advantage through dictating the timing to get the pitcher out of his rhythm and sense of control, but not mad enough to get thrown at. (Gibson denies he would ever throw at a batter for psychological harassment.) Jackson would also try to intimidate the pitcher by looking at him - this, however, he admits didn't work with the best pitchers. Gibson responded that pitchers might play the same psychological game - shaking off pitches just to annoy batters, even though he did prefer to get into a timing routine and finish the game within two hours. Gibson also wouldn't talk to opposing hitters or pitch vs. National league teams in spring training - he wanted to remain a mystery.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Structured in the format of a conversation between two of the greatest ballplayers ever, Sixty Feet, Six Inches is a master class in anything and everything baseball. This is one of the more insightful, interesting books baseball books I've read in recent years.

There is a bit too much of a mutual admiration society thing going on and certainly plenty of "things were better back in our day" kinds of comments, but that's probably to be expected. Where else can you get two great Hall of Famers offering opinions on the game, and its players, then and now?

This is a book that baseball fans won't want to miss.
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