Summer of '98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America

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Overview

In 1998, the conversation of the country was about baseball again, as the taste of the 1994 strike was finally washed away in a sweet flood of glory. With humor and feeling, Lupica recaptures that season, but not in any ordinary way. In Fargo, North Dakota, Roger Maris's boyhood best friend watches McGwire hit 62. In New York, a baseball scout travels back thirteen years, to a skinny kid named Sosa getting off a bus from Santo Domingo with holes in his jersey and a bat in his hand. In Grand Prairie, Texas, Kerry ...
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Overview

In 1998, the conversation of the country was about baseball again, as the taste of the 1994 strike was finally washed away in a sweet flood of glory. With humor and feeling, Lupica recaptures that season, but not in any ordinary way. In Fargo, North Dakota, Roger Maris's boyhood best friend watches McGwire hit 62. In New York, a baseball scout travels back thirteen years, to a skinny kid named Sosa getting off a bus from Santo Domingo with holes in his jersey and a bat in his hand. In Grand Prairie, Texas, Kerry Wood's high school assistant coach refuses to believe the reports of Wood's strikeout record, until the phone starts ringing. The Little League champions from Toms River stand in awe on the field at Yankee Stadium; Joe DiMaggio talks as he watches the Yankees have the kind of year he always had; Cal Ripken, Jr., speaks from the past about how he always intended his streak to end; Yogi Berra watches highlights of David Wells's perfect game and remembers the perfect game he caught from Don Larsen, every detail clear as a bell; Matt Williams of the Arizona Diamondbacks, also a divorced father, watches with a lump in his throat as McGwire lifts his son at home plate. Roger Clemens, Shane Spencer, Orlando Hernandez, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey, Jr. - all the boys of summer come alive in special ways, as we're reminded, for one season at least, that, yes, they do play baseball like they used to. But even more than all of this, Summer of '98 is about fathers and sons - about the golden thread that stretches through baseball and, for Lupica, from his father to himself to his sons.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After several years in the doldrums, baseball recaptured the imagination of fans across the country in 1998. Lupica, a nationally syndicated sports columnist for the New York Daily News, revisits the magic of that season in this feel-great book: "I never thought I would have a better baseball season than the one I had in '61, not just because of the home runs, but because of what I thought was the best Yankee team I would ever see in my life. Now I saw more home runs, and a better Yankee team, the best of all time. I saw the best baseball team. We all did." Lupica intersperses stories about the season's highlights β€” Mark McGwire's and Sammy Sosa's dramatic pursuit of Roger Maris's home run record, rookie Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game, the New York Yankees phenomenal campaign β€” with musings about how baseball provides continuity between his relationship with his father and his own experience with his three young sons. He tells how, in the mornings, he left notes for his sons so that they could learn the results of games that ended after their bedtimes, just as his father did for him when he was young. In his columns, Lupica often deals with strikes, the atrocious behavior of some overpaid athletes and all the tawdriness of sports business and hype. But, in this book, he gives himself completely over to the beauty of baseball as both a game and as an agent of bonding between fathers and children. Fans who want to remember the glory of '98 and get primed for '99 will find this perfect reading for spring training.
Library Journal
The 1998 season was an exciting one for baseball fans. Lupica, the columnist, TV analyst, and author (Mad as Hell: How Sports Got Away from the Fans--And How We Get It Back, LJ 10/1/96), tells an enthusiastic story of how he and his three sons followed it. Lupica centers on the Yankees' record drive to their 24th World Series crown, but weaves in the equally fascinating McGwire-Sosa homer duel, David Wells's perfect game, the end of Cal Ripken's streak, and other notable events. While Bernie Miklasz's Celebrating 70 (LJ 12/98) salutes McGwire's feat, Lupica gives both McGuire and Sosa their proper due. This salute to a memorable season is recommended for all popular adult and YA shelves.--Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Medical Lib., Tucson, AZ
NY Times Book Review
The best moments...come when Lupica finds father-surrogate figures whose relationship to their "offspring" reveals a lot of character.
Kirkus Reviews
The renowned sportswriter strikes out in this treacly paean to fathers, sons, and America's (presumed) national pasttime. In many respects, it was indeed a great summer: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made the hottest home run race ever into a lovefest; 20-year-old pitching phenom Kerry Woods baffled batters with astounding regularity, while another, older pitcher, "Rocket" Roger Clemens, remained unhittable; the Yankees turned warm and fuzzy while notching the most formidable campaign since the dead-ball era; hell, even the Cubs and Red Sox contended! As his father had done for him years ago, sports columnist and novelist Lupica (Jump, 1996; Dead Air,1986; etc.) nurtured his sons' relationship with the game during this splendid season. He took them to "work," left recaps on the kitchen table of games that ended past bedtime, and generally mooned over their precocious love of baseball. On the surface, it's the feel-good story of the year. Scratch this facade, however, and one soon realizes that the game looks much rosier when seen from a journalist's-eye view, from press boxes, luxury suites, and dugouts; players seem more human when one hobnobs with them in talk show "green rooms." Viewed from the average fan's overpriced nosebleed seats, the game arguably looks as petty, cold, and mean as ever. Although the author is generally amiable, his cluelessness seems to say, "Let them eat $7 hot dogs!" The claim Lupica makes in the subtitle summarizes the book's weakness. Yes, records fell, yes, turnstiles whirred at a record pace (although the numbers were padded by league expansion). Nevertheless, in the real world, players and owners aren't ready to "reclaim" the fans β€”or claim anything, for that matter, except poverty when contract negotiations or public stadium referendums come around each year. . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399145148
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/5/1999
  • Pages: 209
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Lupica
Mike Lupica
Mike Lupica lives in Connecticut.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2004

    The Best Baseball Book of the Summer that Reclaimed Baseball for America

    Summer of 98; When Homers Flew, Records Fell and Baseball Reclaimed America... Mike Lupica has finially written the book that really shows how fathers and sons love baseball, and that it really is America's Past Time. The book starts off with Mike (the author if the book) talking about the Summer of 61. When Mikey Mantle and Rogers Maris where in the great home run race. He talks about how his dad at night would leave him a note telling who had hit a homer and how was closer to the record. He then tells about how that one summer brought his dad and him back together. He never thought there could be another summer like it... Then the summer of 98...came... Once Mark Mcgwire and Sammy Sosa started chasing history...he remembered that summer...He then relized he was living the summer of 61 all over again with his own kids... Book goes way beyond just the game of baseball that we all love. It is really about fathers and sons.... If I could put this book into one work....Outstanding...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2000

    The Best Baseball Book for Fans of All Levels

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a quick read and will be sure to bring laughs and tears. It is great for any baseball fan but Cardinal, Yankee, and Cubs' fans will be especially thrilled. Mike Lupica is an absolutely brillant writer and will draw you in on the first page.

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