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Bottom of the 33rd: Hope and Redemption in Baseball's Longest Game

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope and Redemption in Baseball's Longest Game

4.5 28
by Dan Barry

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Bottom of the 33rd is chaw-chewing, sunflower-spitting, pine tar proof that too much baseball is never enough.” —Jane Leavy, author of The Last Boy and Sandy Koufax 

“What a book—an exquisite exercise in story-telling, democracy and myth-making.” —Colum McCann, winner of the National Book


Bottom of the 33rd is chaw-chewing, sunflower-spitting, pine tar proof that too much baseball is never enough.” —Jane Leavy, author of The Last Boy and Sandy Koufax 

“What a book—an exquisite exercise in story-telling, democracy and myth-making.” —Colum McCann, winner of the National Book Award for  Let The Great World Spin 

From Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Dan Barry comes the beautifully recounted story of the longest game in baseball history—a tale celebrating not only the robust intensity of baseball, but the aspirational ideal epitomized by the hard-fighting players of the minor leagues. In the tradition of Moneyball, The Last Hero, and Wicked Good Year, Barry’s Bottom of the 33rd is a reaffirming story of the American Dream finding its greatest expression in timeless contests of the Great American Pastime.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Barry tells the story of the longest game in baseball history, an eight-hour and 25-minute affair between two Triple-A teams in the spring and early summer of 1981. He explores the lives of the players (many career minor leaguers but also such future stars as Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr.) on the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, along with others associated with the game, focusing more on the Pawtucket team as the game was held there. He tries, not entirely successfully, to show special spiritual meaning in the game's progression from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, Barry does not write well enough to make the topic of a very long game deserve a long book, additionally because the 33rd inning of victory did not in fact take place until more than two months after the other 32 innings. Still, it may appeal to some baseball fans, notably of the Red Sox or Orioles.—R.L.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Dan Barry is a reporter and columnist for the New York Times. In 1994 he was part of an investigative team at the Providence Journal that won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles on Rhode Island’s justice system. He is the author of a memoir, a collection of his About New York columns, and Bottom of the 33rd, for which he won the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Maplewood, New Jersey.

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Bottom of the 33rd 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Major League Baseball just opened up another season, so the perfect book to read this week is Dan Barry's Bottom of the 33rd- Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game. The game took place on April 18, 1981, Holy Saturday, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The Triple A League Pawtucket Red Sox hosted the Rochester Red Wings. The Sox had future superstar Wade Boggs on their team, the Red Wings had the incomparable Cal Ripken Jr. at third base. But Barry wisely does not put those superstars at the center of his story. What makes this narrative interesting are the not-so-famous people. The Pawtucket owner, Ben Mondor, a wealthy businessman who grew up poor in Pawtucket and made it big, took the team at its lowest point and restored it to its former glory. He prized loyalty above all, and when Budweiser refused to sell him beer because the former owners owed them money, he remembered that for a long time. Miller sold him beer, and even though Budweiser was the fan favorite, and Budweiser eventually begged him to buy their beer year after year, Mondor stuck with Miller because they were loyal to him. Mondor put together a small but hardworking front office team, and they turned the bankrupt team into a success by "keeping prices low, making the stadium safe and family-friendly and emphasizing that the Pawtucket players on the field were the Boston Red Sox of tomorrow." One of the most unforgettable characters is pitcher Win Remmerswaal. He is from the Netherlands, and "doesn't seem to accept basic social customs, such as adherence to the law or value of currency." His car license plate was a "piece of cardboard with a few meaningless numbers scribbled on it." At the end of one road trip, it was discovered that he was missing. He showed up several days later, explaining that he had never seen the nation's capital, so when they had a layover in Washington, he took a few days to sightsee. He is hilarious! Triple A baseball is the last step before the major league team, so there is an interesting dynamic on those teams. There are the young players destined for future glory, like Boggs and Ripken. There are 'old guys'- the 25 and 26 year-olds- who have kicked around for awhile, and this is their last shot at making the big team. Some of them get called up to play in September on the parent club, only to be sent back to Triple A next spring to try again. The agony of working to see your dream come true, knowing that there is a short time limit on it, is palpable in this book. First baseman Dave Koza has dragged his wife Ann from Florida to Pawtucket to Wyoming every year in pursuit of his dream. Ann finds some kind of factory work wherever they land, and she goes to every game. She is one of the 19 people who watched all 32 innings of the game, lasting until 4am on Easter morning when it was finally called. They are the heart of this marvelous book, and the end to their story is so moving. The longest game, which is finally finished two months later in Pawtucket, is told in detail, alternating with the stories of the people who participated in it. I grew up in Auburn, NY, which has a Single A baseball team, and this book really resonated with me. I know my entire family will want to read it. Barry gives the reader a close-up look at our national pasttime, and what that means for the cities where it is played. He tells the stories of the participants with honesty, humor, and heart. If you like
BooksonBaseball More than 1 year ago
Pure serendipity is the only way I can explain how I came to be at Pawtucket's McCoy stadium a few weeks ago to see the PawSox, Boston's AAA team, take on the Syracuse Chiefs the farm team of the Washington Nationals. I had opened the morning paper and, only two hours away, lay a perfect game for my son and I to attend during his spring break. The weather was raw, windy, and generally inhospitable for viewing baseball -just like a game played in the same stadium 30 years ago. On April 18th, 1981, starting at about 8pm, after a delay with the lights, and ending on Easter morning, April 19th, a little after 4am, the game was still tied at 2-2 after 32 innings! Because of MLB's strike in 1981, there was a huge focus on the game's resumption on June 23rd with a sell-out crowd and over 150 journalists from many countries. The game ended after only 18 minutes with a walk-off single by Pawtucket's Dave Koza in the 33rd inning giving the Sox a 3-2 victory. In all, the game lasted over 8 hours and was the longest in Major or Minor league history. Because of its length, some statistical oddities surfaced including Dallas Williams' 0-13, Jim Umbarger's 10 innings of shutout relief pitching, Russ Laribee striking out 7 times, and hardscrabble New Englander, PawSox manager Joe Morgan having to watch the game from a hole in the wall after being ejected in the 22nd inning. The game even has its own Wikipedia Page! The game is merely a stage prop for Dan Barry's sensational book - Bottom of the 33rd - Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game. Beyond the game, Barry's narrative is more a human interest story about the people involved in the game, a couple of Hall-of-Famers-to-be (Cal Ripken, Jr and Wade Boggs) but mostly about ordinary people; players who will never make the big show, those who have already had their "cup of coffee", about the few rapid fans who stayed the course, the clubhouse attendants, the owners, and about McCoy stadium and and city of Pawtucket. Barry does wonderful research giving us the back story of fans, players, radio announcers and the personalities who came together in this wonderful confluence of circumstances that created the seemingly never-ending game-the umpires' ground rule handbook that had the pages omitted allowing the umpires to stop the game earlier, the league commissioner ignoring calls at home from the game umpires because he had been badgered at home by fans, and the howling wind which reduced home runs to fly balls. Bottom of the 33rd tells how the previously ramshackle McCoy stadium and the moribund Pawtucket team are saved by local businessman Ben Mondoor and how he built the PawSox into one of the premier minor league franchises in all of baseball. This is a wonderful book, part baseball, but mostly of the human condition, the good, the bad, and the ordinary. Like the game, you wish the book to go on and on and on.. Rating: Home Run (A baseball bookshelf classic in the Roger Kahn, Roger Angell, Lawrence Ritter style)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Game of wiffle ball i playd in went 27 innings. Thats nothing to 33 but fun was had by all.
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Dash looked at herself in teh mirror. Youre so amazing she told herself. Then she herd teh doirbell ring. Dont you move one lightning bolt of your pretty cutie mark! She told her reflectiob. She came back to check if Dash was still there. Then both Dashes atw piza tofether. TEH END
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating book, exceptionally well written. Even the non baseball fan will love and enjoy it. The background stories of the players and the game are wonderful. And the history of the game is fantastic. It is the best baseball story, and all true, that I have read.
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bnj078 More than 1 year ago
Dan Barry is a terrific writer who covers every single angle of this once-in-a-lifetime game. While he gives plenty of space to Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, Jr., he primarily focuses on the players who never make it to the "big leagues." Their back stories--what happened in their careers before and after Pawtucket--are the most fascinating, and, at times, heartbreaking. This book is a must for every sport lover's bookshelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Coachclyde More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for any baseball fan, particularly those of the Orioles and Red Sox, as this 1981 gme involved their respective AAA farm teams. 33 innings, the longest game in recorded baseball history, slightly over 8 hours long. However, this is just not about the game but about all the people involved, from the fans to the administration to the ballpark itself. This is just as much a human story as it is a sports story. The book is extremely readable and very hard to put down.
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MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
As one who loves the game and tthe history, Barry did an outstanding job with this account of the longest game ever played. The stories of the people who were not in uniform were great. You felt sorry for the clubhouse attendant who worked so hard to prepare a fine post.game meal for the Red.Wing players only to see it go to mush. You knew exactly how.the kid who fell asleep in the car felt. You understand the frustration of the umpire who is trying to contact the league president. Can't we PLEASE suspend this game? Add these to the stories of players like Dave Koza and you have a great read for any baseball fan. What really makes the recollections even more amazing is that there is very little video footage of this game, as there is usally very little interest in maintaining a record of an early season minor league game. Little did they know...
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bigbones324 More than 1 year ago
If you love baseball you will love this book. It transcends baseball, with an almost feeling of being unreal. That back stories of those involved make it all the more real. The backround of the franchise and building of the ballpark are also quite enjoyable and add to the read
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