Synopses & Reviews
The incredible performances of Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn on July 2, 1963, would forever link their names together in baseball history, and this dual biography of these athletes weaves that 1963 contest throughout the narrative in a book that is sure to be a home run with baseball fans everywhere. Even before their epic pitching duel, Marichal and Spahn already had a lot in common. Future Hall of Famers with high-kicking deliveries, they were shaped into winners by character-building experiences in the military. Spahn had been baseball's most winning pitcher in the 1950s, and Marichal would be equally dominant in the 1960s. The Braves' Spahn and the Giants' Marichal began their duel in San Francisco's cold and windy Candlestick Park. Four hours later, the two pitching legends were deadlocked in a scoreless tie when Willie Mays hit a walk-off home run to end the greatest game ever pitched. In between, Marichal and Spahn each threw more than 200 pitches and went 16 innings without relief. Considering today's culture of pitch counts and coddled arms, it was proved to be a legendary night that won't be repeated ever again.
"Instead of focusing solely on a single game even though the author and others have dubbed the July 1963, 16-inning duel between Marichal and Spahn 'the greatest game ever pitched' Kaplan undertakes a tripartite biography of both pitchers and their famous match-up. That may have been the perfect pitch to Kaplan's publisher, but on paper, the Sports Illustrated veteran swings and largely misses. The narrative darts between Marichal, Spahn, the big game, and the many less-significant games that led up to the famous four-hour affair at pitcher-friendly Candlestick Park. In fact, Kaplan seems to devote fewer time to this game renowned for both hurlers going the distance without relief than he does to exploring the plight of Latino ballplayers in the 1960s and the impact of pitch counts on modern-day baseball. Not that this is such a bad thing; this game would never happen today and the author skillfully explains why. Kaplan also breaks from typical sportswriter prose, drawing comparisons between Spahn's final years and a late scene in Shakespeare's 'King Lear,' for instance, and mostly overcomes his zig-zagging structure. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jim Kaplan is the author of 19 books, including 13 on baseball. He was a writer for Sports Illustrated for 16 years before turning to freelance writing. Greg Spahn is Warren Spahns son.