Pennant Races: Baseball at Its Best

Overview

Every child who's ever played an inning in little league has the fantasy: bases loaded, two out, three-two count, down 4-1 on the bottom of the ninth, the pennant on the line. In our mind's eye, we are Babe Ruth (or Willie Mays, or Hank Aaron, or Mike Schmidt, or Cecil Fielder), we swing from the heels and - crack! - the ball soars upward, rising toward a sea of out-stretched arms, and as it clears the fence our teammates, the crowd, the city go berserk, for the Yankees (or the Giants, or the Braves, or the ...
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Overview

Every child who's ever played an inning in little league has the fantasy: bases loaded, two out, three-two count, down 4-1 on the bottom of the ninth, the pennant on the line. In our mind's eye, we are Babe Ruth (or Willie Mays, or Hank Aaron, or Mike Schmidt, or Cecil Fielder), we swing from the heels and - crack! - the ball soars upward, rising toward a sea of out-stretched arms, and as it clears the fence our teammates, the crowd, the city go berserk, for the Yankees (or the Giants, or the Braves, or the Phillies, or the Tigers) have won the pennant. In all of sports, no scenario is more dramatic than the pressure cooker of a major league pennant race. Day after day, game after game, inning after inning, players battle for first place with one eye on the scoreboard and another on the schedule. Some teams wilt or crumble under the relentless tension, like the Indians of 1940, and some discover hidden reserves of character, like the 1967 Red Sox. And on rare and great occasions a player realizes that childhood fantasy, the pennant-winning home run, as Bobby Thomson did at the Polo Grounds in 1951. A pennant race defines what is best about baseball: the chance for a pure, glorious, redemptive moment. In Pennant Races, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson vividly recreates the excitement of the most thrilling down-to-the-wire finishes in baseball history. Here are John McGraw's tough-as-nails 1908 New York Giants furiously duking it out with the Cubs of Tinker-to-Ever-to-Chance, only to fall victim to "Merkle's Boner." The three-way 1920 race featured not only the tragically fatal beaning of Cleveland Indian star Ray Chapman, but the outbreak of the Black Sox scandal just as a surging Chicago was only one half-game out of first. From Dizzy Dean and the 1934 Gas House Gang Cardinals to "Leo the Lip's" 1941 Dodgers to the famous "Phillie Phlop" in 1964, Pennant Races tells the stories of the greatest names and teams from the turn of
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
New York Times sports columnist Anderson ( In the Corner ) scores a double coup here: he presents an original subject and recreates the tension and drama that characterized baseball's most suspenseful pennant drives. Anderson sets forth his criteria for suspense in his introduction, explaining that he eliminated such teams as the 1969 New York Mets, who won the pennant by eight games, in favor of those races with ``the most theatrical dimension.'' He begins with the two races in 1908, won by the Tigers and the Cubs--the latter after the famed ``bonehead'' play by Giant Fred Merkle--and includes the St. Louis Cardinal Gashouse Gang of 1934, the St. Louis Browns' only pennant in 1944 and the Cleveland Indians' victory in the first American League playoff game in 1948. Anderson also discusses the Giants win over the Dodgers thanks to Bobby Thomson's ``shot heard 'round the world'' in 1951, the ``Phillies' Phlop'' in 1964 and the Atlanta Braves' triumphs in 1991 and 1993. Every entry is gripping and smoothly written. Photos. (Apr.)
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Pulitzer Prize-winning NY Times sports columnist re-creates the drama of 15 pennant contests, from the 1908 season, which featured three-way battles in both leagues, to the 1993 race between San Francisco and Atlanta. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385477147
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/1995
  • Pages: 421

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