The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78
In this spellbinding book, Richard Bradley tells the story of what was surely the greatest major league game of our lifetime and perhaps in the history of professional baseball. That game, played at Fenway Park on the afternoon of October 4, 1978, was the culmination of one of the most tense, emotionally wrought seasons ever, between baseball's two most bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Both teams finished this tumultuous season with identical 99-64 records, forcing a one-game playoff. With a one-run lead and two outs, with the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, the entire season came down to one at-bat and to one swing of the bat.
It came down, as both men eerily predicted to themselves the night before, to the aging Red Sox legend, Carl Yastrzemski, and the Yankees' free-agent power reliever, Rich "Goose" Gossage.
Anyone who calls himself a baseball fan knows the outcome of that confrontation. And yet such are the literary powers of the author that we are pulled back in time to that late-afternoon moment and become filled anew with all the taut sense of drama that sports has to offer, as if we don't know what happened. As if the thoughts swirling around in the heads of pitcher and hitter are still fresh, both still hopeful of controlling events.
That climactic game occurred thirty seasons ago and yet it still captures our imagination. In this delightful work of sports literature, we watch the game unfold pitch by pitch, inning by inning, but Bradley is up to something more ambitious than just recounting this wonderful game. He also tells us the stories of the participants -- how they got to that moment in their lives and careers, what was at stake for them personally -- including the rivalries within the rivalry, such as catcher Carlton Fisk versus catcher Thurman Munson,and Billy Martin versus everyone. Using a narrative that alternates points of view between the teams, Bradley reacquaints us with a rich roster of characters -- Freddy Lynn, Ron Guidry, Catfish Hunter, Mike Torrez, Jerry Remy, Lou Piniella, George Scott, and Reggie Jackson. And, of course, Bucky Dent, who craved just such a moment in the sun -- a validation he had vainly sought from the father he barely knew.
Not a book intended to celebrate a triumph or lament a loss, The Greatest Game will be embraced in both Boston and New York, with fans of both teams recalling again the talented young men they once gave their hearts to. And fans everywhere will be reminded how utterly gripping a single baseball game can be and that the rewards of being a fan lie not in victory but in caring beyond reason, even decades after the fact.
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The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78User Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Bradley (American Son: A Portrait of John F. Kennedy, Jr.) here retells the classic elimination game of October 2, 1978, almost pitch by pitch, giving moving accounts of the players and framing many ... Read full review
The Top of the First
The Boston Spring
The Bottom of the First
The Second Inning
The Origins of a Rivalry
The Third Inning
Billy Martin Feels the Heat
GoodBye for Now
The Fifth Inning
The Sixth Inning
The Pope Dies the Sox Live
The Eighth Inning
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American League at-bat baseball batter’s box beat better Bill Lee Billy Martin Bob Lemon Boston breaking ball Brohamer Bucky Dent bunt Butch Hobson career Carl Yastrzemski Carlton Fisk catch catcher Catfish Hunter Denkinger Dodgers Don Zimmer dugout Evans fastball felt Fenway Park fielder foul Fred Lynn free agent George Scott George Steinbrenner glove going Gossage Gossage’s Graig Nettles Guidry’s guys hard hitter home plate home run infield inside Jerry Remy Jim Rice knew left field line drive looked Lou Piniella manager Mickey Rivers Mike Torrez mound never Orioles outfield pennant pitch pitcher play players playoff Red Sox Reggie Jackson Rick Burleson right field right-handed Ron Guidry rookie Roy White runs batted score season shortstop signed slider Sparky Lyle started Steinbrenner’s strike swing swung team’s teammates thing threw throw Thurman Munson Tiant walked wanted White Sox World Series York