Synopses & Reviews
Hack Wilsons record 191 RBIs in 1930 may well stand the test of time, and so may the record of his hard-drinking lifestyle. In Hacks 191, Bill Chastain re-creates the most productive offensive season in baseball history while giving readers unique insight into the life of one of baseballs most fascinating, enigmatic, and yet neglected characters.Drunk or sober, Lewis Robert “Hack” Wilson lived large in Prohibition-era Chicago, where the entertainment and nightclub industries thrived and Al Capone, an acquaintance of Wilson, reigned as the most publicized gangster in America. Hack finished his 1929 season with the Chicago Cubs batting .345 with 39 home runs and 159 RBIs, giving him his fourth consecutive 100-plus RBI season. But he was the goat of the World Series, misplaying two fly balls that triggered a comeback by the Philadelphia Athletics. Despite losing the Series, the Cubs entered the 1930 season favored again to win the National League pennant. Complementing Wilson in the lineup were Rogers Hornsby and Kiki Cuyler. The great Joe McCarthy managed the team. After a slow start and many bad breaks—including the death of one player and a costly injury to Hornsby—the Cubs were in first place by the end of August, with Hack Wilson leading the way. In the publics mind, Wilsons pursuit of Babe Ruths single-season home run record of 60—a pursuit that saw him exceed Ruths pace for much of the season—overshadowed his assault on Lou Gehrigs RBI mark of 175. Chronicling the ups, downs, and record-setting accomplishments of “Hack,” this book returns arguably the most hard-living, hard-hitting ballplayer in history to the lineup of the games greats.
“I have long been fascinated by Hack Wilson, and his underappreciated RBI record. In Hacks 191, Bill Chastain marvelously explains both the man and the mark. I learned something on every page.”
—Tim Kurkjian, senior writer, ESPN The Magazine
“Hacks 191 is a fascinating inside look at not only the 1930 season but also one of the most intriguing, overlooked characters the game has known. Bill Chastain captures the brawling times of Al Capones prohibition-era Chicago and the barrel-shaped ballplayers who lived large during it. He also gives us a detailed look at a season that helped create arguably baseballs most unapproachable record, a season that changed the course of the game.”
—Dave van Dyck, Chicago Tribune
The story of the Windy Citys hard-hitting, hard-drinking speakeasy slugger, and the holder of what might be baseballs unbreakable record.
About the Author
Bill Chastain is the author of several books, including The Steve Spurrier Story and the novels The Streak and Peachtree Corvette Club. Formerly a columnist and sports reporter for the Tampa Tribune and a correspondent for Sports Illustrated, he currently covers Major League Baseballs Tampa Bay Rays for MLB.com.