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The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy…

The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York…

by Frank Deford

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Deford tries a bit hard to cop the vibe of the early 1900's at some points, writing a bit too much in that style, but an overall solid effort. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jan 29, 2016 |
The subject matter of this book seemed so promising, however the writing was not. Some (very few) parts were interesting, but overall it was really like an extended magazine article that kept repeating itself. I was very disappointed. ( )
  weejane | Jan 16, 2011 |
When you hear Deford's commentary on NPR's Morning Edition (or see it on HBO's Real Sports), his love of sports - especially the history of sports - is evident in his grandfatherly voice. He clearly knows his sports (he's been a Sports Illustrated writer since the Sixties), but what really makes Deford's stand out from all the other sports opinionists is his storytelling ability. While he doesn't ignore player stats and team records, Deford realizes that in the end his readers don't want a history book, they just want a good story. And that's what Deford gives them in The Old Ball Game.

Game documents the rarely-mentioned pre-Ruthian era of baseball, before it became the Great American Past-time (and way before it stopped being the nation's favorite past-time). Although the two men at the center of the book are shown to be early innovators of the sport (one in the dugout, the other on the pitcher's mound), Deford keeps their stories on a personal level. You read about their accomplishments, but you also read about their lives off the field, their tight relationship with each other, and how they were treated by (and they treated) other players. The fact that their dedication to improving their team's chances resulted in professional baseball that actually looked professional and drew public attention (and respect) to their young sport, well, that just makes the story Deford's telling even more satisfying. A quick and fun read. ( )
  mhgatti | Aug 8, 2007 |
Deford is a fine sportswriter who excels in telling good stories. But as a historian--well, he makes a fine sportswriter. ( )
  Nestus_Gurley | May 15, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0871138859, Hardcover)

In The Old Ball Game, America's most beloved sportswriter, Frank Deford, masterfully chronicles how a friendship between two towering figures in baseball helped make the sport a national pastime. At the turn of the twentieth century, every American man wanted to be Christy Mathewson. One of baseball's first superstars, he was clean-cut, didn't pitch on the Sabbath, and rarely spoke a negative word about anyone. He also had one of the most devastating arms in all of baseball. New York Giants manager John McGraw, by contrast, was ferocious. Nicknamed "the Little Napoleon," the pugnacious tough guy had been a star baseball player who helped develop the hit-and-run. When McGraw joined the Giants in 1902, the team was coming off its worst season ever. Yet within three years, Mathewson clinched New York City's first World Series title by throwing three straight shutouts over six days, an incredible feat that is often called the greatest World Series performance ever. Frank Deford, a senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated and weekly commentator on NPR's Morning Edition, recounts the rise of baseball's first superstar, the Giants' ascent into legend, and the sport's transformation into a national obsession.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:32 -0400)

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