Book Review of Baseball’s Greatest Games
- Updated: January 14, 2009
Baseball’s Greatest Games is the latest book in a new series put out by the MLB Insiders Club Library. The writing in the book is done by Eric Enders and the book can only be obtained if one is in the MLB Insiders Club. (In order to do this, search for it online. Usually it is by invite only, but they do accept requests.)
In addition to having stories of some of the greatest games and moments in the history of baseball, some that are common knowledge to the casual fan, and some that are not, the book also features full page size photographs along with each story so the reader really gets the full gist of the importance of the game.
The book is divided up into categories, the first of which is debuts. One of the debuts that is highlighted in this section is Anduw Jones’ debut on the World Series stage in 1996 when he blasted two home runs during his first game, leading the Braves to the win (although they would ultimately lose the Series to the Yankees).
During the second section of the book, the greatest opening day triumphs of all time are chronicled. Perhaps none is more amazing and memorable than the no-hitter pitched by the Indians’ Bob Feller on opening day in 1940. Even though his team provided him with just one run, Feller didn’t bat an eye and gave up five walks on his way to the first, and still only, opening day no hitter.
The third chapter chronicles the best individual performances at the plate. It should be no surprise that in this section, readers will find a lead story about former Yankee Reggie Jackson and his heroics on October 18, 1977. On that day, during the World Series against the Dodgers, Jackson uncorked three home runs to gain the nickname Mr. October.
Pitchers are the focus of the next section of the book and just like the section on hitters, there are many individual performances told that could amaze the reader even if they are already aware of the specific story. Perhaps the most amazing feat of this chapter is Don Larson’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. One of the other pitchers on the team tells readers that no one on the Yankees in those years ever knew who was pitching until they came to the ballpark and found a ball in their shoe. Since Larson had pitched more recently than just about every other starter, he could not have been more surprised to find the ball in his locker, but manager Casey Stengel’s strange pick paid off as Larson retired everyone in order.
While there are many amazing individual performances, some games are made great due to the fact that there are two very good competitors going against one another. This is what another chapter on pitchers’ duels tries to bring to the table. One of the match-ups chosen for the book is a game from the 1991 World Series when Jack Morris faced off against John Smoltz. While Morris came out on the winning end, the game was a nail bitter for ten innings and a young John Smoltz gave the eventual World Series MVP all he could handle.
Many bizarre plays have happened over the course of baseball history, but none is more famous than the George Brett’s pine tar home run in 1983. Even though the Royals would end up beating the Yankees in a suspended version of the game, the play still lives in baseball infamy.
During the rivals section of the book, it will be no surprise to readers that four of the stories feature possibly the most publicized rivalry in baseball: the Red Sox vs. the Yankees. One of these stories comes from October 17, 2004 when David Ortiz hit a game winning home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to start a streak of eight strait wins for the Sox to end their infamous winless streak.
While individual performances are something that can amaze any baseball fan, there have been many team performances that have wowed some city’s fans across the nation. The most recent of these came in 2007 when the Rangers scored 30 runs against the Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader. It was the most runs scored by an American League team since 1987 and the Orioles team ERA jumped from seventh to 11th just from the outcome of that game.
The stories mentioned above are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to all of the games that are mentioned in this book. While the brief stories do bring some amazing statistics and feats to the average baseball fan’s mind, perhaps the biggest problem with the book is that many of the stories are too short for the reader to truly understand the significance of a few of the so called greatest games.
The Grade: 3.5/5
Bill Jordan is a contributor to BaseballReflections.com. He can be reached by e-mail at BillJordaniv@yahoo.c