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Almost Perfect: The Heartbreaking Pursuit of Pitching's Holy Grail

Almost Perfect: The Heartbreaking Pursuit of Pitching's Holy Grail


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The rich, poignant tales of major league baseball’s most hard-luck fraternity—the pitchers of its Almost-Perfect Games

From 1908 to 2015, there have been thirteen pitchers who have begun Major League Baseball games by retiring the first twenty-six opposing batters, but then, one out from completing a perfect game, somehow faltering (or having perfection stolen from them). Three other pitchers did successfully retire twenty-seven batters in a row, but are still not credited with perfect games. While stories of pitching the perfect game have been told and retold, Almost Perfect looks at how baseball, at its core, is about heartbreak, and these sixteen men are closer to what baseball really is, and why we remain invested in the sport. Author Joe Cox visits this notion through a century of baseball and through these sixteen pitchers—recounting their games in thrilling fashion, telling the personal stories of the fascinating (and very human) baseball figures involved, and exploring the historical American and baseball backdrops of each flawed gem.

From George “Hooks” Wiltse's nearly perfect game in 1908 to “Hard Luck” Harvey Haddix’s 12-inning, 36-consecutive-outs performance on May 26, 1959 (the most astounding single-game pitching performance in baseball history) to Max Scherzer’s near miss in 2015, Joe Cox’s book captures the action, the humanity, and the history of the national pastime’s greatest “almosts.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493039531
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 03/15/2019
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Joe Cox is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and is the co-author of multiple sports books, including Fightin' Words: Kentucky vs. Louisville and Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Table of Contents

Foreword Jim Bunning vii

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 "There'll Sure Be Rain, for You Heard the Thunder" (July 4, 1908-George "Hooks" Wiltse, Giants) 1

Chapter 2 In Relief of the Babe (June 23, 1917-Ernie Shore, Red Sox) 15

Chapter 3 "150 Pounds of Sheer Guts" (August 5, 1932-Tommy Bridges, Tigers) 29

Chapter 4 Billy the Kid… "What More Do You Want?" (June 27, 1958 Billy Pierce, White Sox) 41

Chapter 5 The Greatest Pitching Masterpiece in Baseball History (May 26, 1959-Harvey Haddix, Pirates) 55

Chapter 6 "You've Got to Be Kidding Me" (September 2, 1972-Milt Pappas, Cubs) 69

Chapter 7 From the Tigers to the Dogs (April 15, 1983-Milt Wilcox, Tigers) 83

Chapter 8 The True Creature and Charlie Hustle (May 2, 1988-Ron Robinson, Reds) 95

Chapter 9 Tomorrow I'll Be Perfect (August 4, 1989-Dave Stieb, Blue Jays) 109

Chapter 10 "It's Just Baseball" (April 20, 1990-Brian Holman, Mariners) 123

Chapter 11 Little Brother No More (June 3, 1995-Pedro Martinez, Expos) 139

Chapter 12 Mr. Almost and America's Tragedy (September 2, 2001-Mike Mussina, Yankees) 153

Chapter 13 Perfectly Imperfect (June 2, 2010-Armando Galarraga, Tigers) 167

Chapter 14 Near Perfection from the Land of the Rising Sun (April 2, 2013-Yu Darvish, Rangers) 185

Chapter 15 Down to a Dream (September 6, 2013-Yusmeiro Petit, Giants) 199

Chapter 16 The Illusion of Control (June 20, 2015-Max Scherzer, Nationals) 213

Afterword 227

Acknowledgments 228

Sources 231

Bibliography 250

Index 255

About the Author 265

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