For four hours, 10 minutes, and 16 innings, all through the night of July 2, 1963, and into July 3, Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal slugged it out like a veteran boxer and a young contender.That's what they call a "hook" in the book trade. It worked for me, of course, being baseball fan and a Giants junkie. I was contacted a few weeks ago by some nice folks at Triumph Books asking if I would be interested in a "review copy" of Mr. Kaplan's The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, and the Pitching Duel of the Century. Let's see: free book, Juan Marichal, Candlestick Park, Warren Spahn, SF Giants, baseball history . . . uh, sure, OK. Like I was going to say "no." Funny thing, I don't read a lot of baseball books. I mean, I don't actually read The Baseball Encyclopedia (I have the 7th ed.) even though I've spent a lot of time in my life with that book on my lap. (Nowadays I peruse Baseball-Reference.com.) I did read David Halberstam's Summer of '49 and October 1964, both of which were excellent. And W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe remains a favorite (the film version is a bit heavy-handed for my taste--Mr. Costner is far better in Bull Durham and has much better co-stars). I couldn't watch Ken Burns' Baseball, it kept putting me to sleep. Despite the fact that I'm a Giants baseball fanatic and follow the major leagues pretty closely, I'm actually not all that qualified to write a review of a baseball book. I just don't consume that many of them! I'm much better with 40s and 50s noir or post-modern SF. Alas, duty calls!
Look for my review at the end of the week on my Giants blog Raising Matt Cain.