The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of ’78

By RICHARD BRADLEY

A shifting wind; the slow creep of shadows at an afternoon ballgame; a July 4th rainout; an inexplicable catch in the deepest corner of the Fenway Park outfield; the failing eyesight of an aging big-game hitter; the replacement of an alcoholic, vindictive manager; a freak home run from a shortstop not known for his power — all play a part in one single baseball game, one season, one historic rivalry, one immortal moment in baseball history. With The Greatest Game, Richard Bradley plunks the reader right on the bench for a monumental contest: the one-game 1978 playoff between the Yankees and Red Sox, to decide which team would go on to battle for a World Series berth. Thirty years after, Bradley seems to have lived with many of the players: he gets Bucky Dent, Dennis Eckersley, Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles, Carl Yastrzemski and others to discuss the deepest details of the game, the season, and their lives. A Red Sox pitcher claims the Yanks used a corked bat; that light-hitting shortstop finds his birth father after a 25-year search; a tight-knit group of renegade Boston players slowly get broken apart by an old-school manager. As they recall these magic hours, nostalgia may urge readers to call out for Cracker Jacks, but this tale unwinds with an intensity that commands attention until the last out — even if you already know the final score. -

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