The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, and the Pitching Duel of the Century

Overview

The incredible performances of Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn on July 2, 1963, would forever link their names together in baseball history, and this dual biography of these athletes weaves that 1963 contest throughout the narrative in a book that is sure to be a home run with baseball fans everywhere. Even before their epic pitching duel, Marichal and Spahn already had a lot in common. Future Hall of Famers with high-kicking deliveries, they were shaped into winners by character-building experiences in the ...

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The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn and the Pitching Duel of the Century

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Overview

The incredible performances of Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn on July 2, 1963, would forever link their names together in baseball history, and this dual biography of these athletes weaves that 1963 contest throughout the narrative in a book that is sure to be a home run with baseball fans everywhere. Even before their epic pitching duel, Marichal and Spahn already had a lot in common. Future Hall of Famers with high-kicking deliveries, they were shaped into winners by character-building experiences in the military. Spahn had been baseball's most winning pitcher in the 1950s, and Marichal would be equally dominant in the 1960s. The Braves' Spahn and the Giants' Marichal began their duel in San Francisco's cold and windy Candlestick Park. Four hours later, the two pitching legends were deadlocked in a scoreless tie when Willie Mays hit a walk-off home run to end the greatest game ever pitched. In between, Marichal and Spahn each threw more than 200 pitches and went 16 innings without relief. Considering today's culture of pitch counts and coddled arms, it proved to be a legendary night that won't be repeated ever again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Instead of focusing solely on a single game-even though the author and others have dubbed the July 1963, 16-inning duel between Marichal and Spahn "the greatest game ever pitched"-Kaplan undertakes a tripartite biography of both pitchers and their famous match-up. That may have been the perfect pitch to Kaplan's publisher, but on paper, the Sports Illustrated veteran swings and largely misses. The narrative darts between Marichal, Spahn, the big game, and the many less-significant games that led up to the famous four-hour affair at pitcher-friendly Candlestick Park. In fact, Kaplan seems to devote fewer time to this game-renowned for both hurlers going the distance without relief-than he does to exploring the plight of Latino ballplayers in the 1960s and the impact of pitch counts on modern-day baseball. Not that this is such a bad thing; this game would never happen today and the author skillfully explains why. Kaplan also breaks from typical sportswriter prose, drawing comparisons between Spahn's final years and a late scene in Shakespeare's "King Lear," for instance, and mostly overcomes his zig-zagging structure.
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Library Journal
On July 2, 1963, the Milwaukee Braves met the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park, with Warren Spahn, who dominated pitching in the 1950s, facing Juan Marichal, who would dominate in the 1960s (together with Bob Gibson). Spahn, a decorated veteran, was 42; Marichal was 25—both future Hall of Famers and both known for their high leg kicks. For 16 innings they dueled and amassed a pitch count greater than 400, eschewing relief help, motivated by the desire to win and the duty to teammates and fans to end what they had begun. A single run ended the game. Kaplan, formerly of Sports Illustrated, succeeds in weaving an enaging and at times captivating tapestry in which old and new are contrasted, the past debunked, and the future debated. A thoroughly enjoyable account of a game never to be repeated.—G.R.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600783418
  • Publisher: Triumph Books
  • Publication date: 2/10/2011
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 998,565
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Kaplan is the author of 19 books, including 13 on baseball as well as Historic America: New England, Lefty Grove: American Original, and Golden Years of Baseball. After three years of covering sports for the Minneapolis Star, he spent 16 years at Sports Illustrated then turned to freelance writing. He divides his time between Northampton and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. Greg Spahn is the only child of Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn and this is his first book. He lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Greg Spahn ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

Chapter 1 High-Kicking to Glory 1

Chapter 2 Searching for Juan in Cooperstown 11

Chapter 3 Searching for Spahn in Buffalo 27

Chapter 4 Big League in the Bush Leagues 39

Chapter 5 From the Sticks to the Series 57

Chapter 6 Something in Reserve? 87

Chapter 7 Denouement 119

Extra Innings

Chapter 8 Winding Down with Juan 143

Chapter 9 Winding Up with Warren 179

Appendix 205

Notes 215

Bibliography 221

Index 227

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