With his regular contributions to "Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio's "Morning Edition. Frank Deford is, in the words of "The Sporting News. "the most influential sports voice among members of the American print media." In "The Old Ball Game, America's most beloved sports-writer does a masterful job of chronicling the early days of ...
With his regular contributions to "Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio's "Morning Edition. Frank Deford is, in the words of "The Sporting News. "the most influential sports voice among members of the American print media." In "The Old Ball Game, America's most beloved sports-writer does a masterful job of chronicling the early days of America's most beloved pastime. At the turn of the twentieth century, every American man wanted to be Christy Mathewson. One of baseball's first superstars, he was over six feet tall, clean-cut, college educated (at a time when only 6 percent of Americans had finished high school), 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, with the Baltimore Orioles, helped develop the hit-and-run, the "Baltimore chop," and the squeeze play. When McGraw joined the Giants in 1902, the Giants were coming off their 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 has never been surpassed by any pitcher since and is often called the greatest World Series performance ever. Both men came to the Giants at that moment when New York itself was becoming the first city of the world--a rambunctious metropolis second only to London in population. Baseball was, likewise, quickly becoming America's game. This was when the sport was still in its reckless infancy, when groundskeepers would doctorfoul lines and outfielders would hide baseballs in ankle-deep weeds in case they couldn't find the ball in play. Mathewson and McGraw helped bring baseball into the modern era by refining the sport's tactics. Because of their association, baseball had its first superstar, the Giants ascended into legend, and baseball as a national pastime bloomed.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-02-07 At the turn of the 20th century, "every American could want to be Christy Mathewson," Deford writes, and "every American could admire John J. McGraw." For a generation of fans in the era before Babe Ruth, Giants pitcher Mathewson was the best baseball had to offer and the epitome of good sportsmanship. By contrast, McGraw was a hard-drinking player/manager frequently ejected from games for attacking the umps. When McGraw came to New York (after wearing out his welcome elsewhere), though, the two became so close that they moved in together along with their wives. Deford, expanding on an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated, provides an entertaining string of anecdotes peppered with his own observations, focusing on one player and then looping back to address the other. An NPR Morning Edition weekly commentator, Deford has a thoughtful eye for the details of a century past, but he also points out how much early 1900s baseball culture shares with today's, as when he compares early gambling scandals to the contemporary steroids controversy. Though not quite a full biography of either player, this lively volume offers great diversion for any baseball fan. B&w photos. Agent, Sterling Lord. (Apr.) Forecast: Heralded by GQ as "the world's greatest sportswriter," Deford is sure to get plenty of media attention at the start of the season. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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