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Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues,…
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Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created… (2007)

by Cait Murphy

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Not sure it was baseball's best pennant race but is was a fascinating study of early baseball. Hard to believe it was the last time the Cubs won the World Series. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
The material is fascinating, the research is good, and anyone who enjoys baseball history or, indeed, social history of this time period will benefit from reading "Crazy '08." But - and it is a big but - Cait Murphy's writing style is amateurish, cutesy-casual, and faux-hip, amounting to a deeply misguided attempt to sound early 21st Century while describing the early 20th Century. It does not work.

I also agree with the other reviewer who suggests that Murphy has not made her case that 1908 was the greatest baseball season ever. How great could it be with a blah World Series that she dismisses in a couple of sentences? The pennant races WERE great (although she gives short shrift to the American League as compared to the National), the human dramas were definitely compelling, and it would in no way diminish the choice of subject if the 1908 season were simply GREAT as opposed to the GREATEST. But that's the world of non-fiction marketing nowadays: Everything has to be a game-changer, everything has to be a turning point ("Cod, the fish that changed the world!"). It grows ridiculous. ( )
  PatrickMurtha | Jan 11, 2015 |
This book is a history of the pennant races in major league baseball in 1908. Lots of interesting stuff, and a cast of characters that includes Mordecai Three-finger Brown, Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and, of course, Tinker, Evers and Chance. Still, I found reading it somewhat tedious despite the baseball color and the author's efforts to tie what baseball history to the social history of the turn of the century. I'm not sure why it was a slog, as the writing is pretty good--maybe just too much jumping around as the author follows each of the six teams involved in the National and American League pennant races. So it only gets three stars from me. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
"Crazy '08..." is a well-researched, fascinating look at the 1908 baseball season - or as author Cait Murphy described it, "one of the greatest seasons in baseball's history". The book spends a majority of its time going over the trials and tribulations of the Cubs, Giants, and the Pirates as they fight their way, both figuratively and literally, through the long season. These three squads kept baseball fans in suspense until the very last day of the season - and even beyond due to the tie-breaking game that was needed to determine the pennant winner.

Many of the baseball's greatest get their due by Murphy as the reader progresses through the book. Those greats highlighted in detail are: Cubs - Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, and Joe Tinker (the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance), and their outstanding pitcher, Three-Finger Brown; Giants - manager John McGraw, pitcher extraordinaire Christy Mathewson, and the unfortunate Fred Merkle; and the Pirate's peerless shortstop, Honus Wagner. There are other greats mentioned throughout the book, but Murphy really concentrates on these players.

I've read a number of outstanding baseball histories over the years, but none have had the combination of pathos, humor, and intelligence that this book did. Fans of baseball history who enjoyed Lawrence Ritter's fabulous "Glory of Their Times" and anything written by baseball writers Donald Honig or John Thorn, will love "Crazy '08". ( )
  coachtim30 | Sep 16, 2012 |
god love crazy 08! and cranks! good history lesson, 'specially on chi-town. ( )
  rootlaura | Oct 3, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060889373, Hardcover)

From the perspective of 2007, the unintentional irony of Chance's boast is manifest—these days, the question is when will the Cubs ever win a game they have to have. In October 1908, though, no one would have laughed: The Cubs were, without doubt, baseball's greatest team—the first dynasty of the 20th century.

Crazy '08 recounts the 1908 season—the year when Peerless Leader Frank Chance's men went toe to toe to toe with John McGraw and Christy Mathewson's New York Giants and Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates in the greatest pennant race the National League has ever seen. The American League has its own three-cornered pennant fight, and players like Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and the egregiously crooked Hal Chase ensured that the junior circuit had its moments. But it was the National League's—and the Cubs'—year.

Crazy '08, however, is not just the exciting story of a great season. It is also about the forces that created modern baseball, and the America that produced it. In 1908, crooked pols run Chicago's First Ward, and gambling magnates control the Yankees. Fans regularly invade the field to do handstands or argue with the umps; others shoot guns from rickety grandstands prone to burning. There are anarchists on the loose and racial killings in the town that made Lincoln. On the flimsiest of pretexts, General Abner Doubleday becomes a symbol of Americanism, and baseball's own anthem, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," is a hit.

Picaresque and dramatic, 1908 is a season in which so many weird and wonderful things happen that it is somehow unsurprising that a hairpiece, a swarm of gnats, a sudden bout of lumbago, and a disaster down in the mines all play a role in its outcome. And sometimes the events are not so wonderful at all. There are several deaths by baseball, and the shadow of corruption creeps closer to the heart of baseball—the honesty of the game itself. Simply put, 1908 is the year that baseball grew up.

Oh, and it was the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

Destined to be as memorable as the season it documents, Crazy '08 sets a new standard for what a book about baseball can be.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:06 -0400)

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