Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Bottom of the Ninth by Michael Shapiro (4 stars)

Historic Baseball Moments

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH is a baseball fan's dream. The book is filled to the top with historical moments, lore, and characters that shaped America's national pastime. The books spans several years in one of baseball's defining moments in history.

This book is not for everyone, as it is loaded with players, managers, political figures, prominent city people, cities, states, and their little (or big) stories and motivations. With the sheer volume of stuff going on in this book it is hard to keep track, but the mastery of the writing is almost magical. The author, Michael Shapiro keeps dumping data, quotes, stories, and reports, and accounts but it never gets lost or overpowering because the way it is all integrated into the story and the chapters. Reading this book is truly like reminiscing about the good old days of baseball, which is further supported because most of the people involved in the main two story arcs aren't even big name baseball players! It's like sitting around a bar listening to people talk about the phenomenal game of baseball in the Micky Mantle era.

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH is a tale of a sport (and the men and women associated with it) defining themselves for the next several decades. I learned so much from this book that I am amazed. I never knew that there was serious consideration for the development of a third baseball league, the Continental League. There is so much history about politics and baseball cities. The stories of Casey Stengel are classic. His personality and the way the players and public viewed him is captured perfectly. Reading the pages you can feel the disgust, contempt, and appreciation that various people felt at any given moment.

This is a wonderful tale about the people of baseball in the 50s. There are enough play-by-play of classic great games that any baseball fan, no matter how die-hard, will enjoy this book. If you get chills from hearing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" you will enjoy this book more than others. If you just like baseball, then you may be discouraged by the massive amount of information conveyed in each chapter.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

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