The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78

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Simon and Schuster, Mar 18, 2008 - Sports & Recreation - 256 pages
10 Reviews
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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Review: The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78

User Review  - Goodreads

A decent-enough recap of the '78 playoff, and the circumstances leading up to it, but Bradley's prose lacks the zip you'd hope he'd bring to such a tense and important game. The overall effect is to flatten the book somewhat. Read full review

Review: The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78

User Review  - Goodreads

I am not a Yankee or a Red Sox fan. I believe the DH is an affront to the Laws of Man and Nature. Yet, I still liked this book. As Dan Okrent once said, "miles of Canadian forest have been sacrificed ... Read full review

Contents

The Top of the First
22
The Boston Spring
41
The Bottom of the First
55
The Second Inning
87
The Origins of a Rivalry
101
The Third Inning
123
Billy Martin Feels the Heat
138
GoodBye for Now
154
The Fifth Inning
170
The Sixth Inning
191
The Pope Dies the Sox Live
206
The Eighth Inning
227
Epilogue
249
Acknowledgments
265
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Richard Bradley is the author of the New York Times bestseller
American Son: A Portrait of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Harvard Rules: The
Struggle for the Soul of the World's Most Powerful University
. His writing
has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling
Stone
, and The New Republic, and he was the executive editor of
George magazine. Bradley lives in New York City.

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