The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age

Sridhar Pappu. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-547-71927-6
This exciting work by New York Times columnist Pappu is a sophisticated look at the 1968 baseball season, which he dubs the year of the pitcher. That year, the L.A. Dodgers’ Don Drysdale threw 58 and two-thirds scoreless innings and there were 185 shutouts in the National League and 154 in the American League. “Hitters were lost, offense nonexistent,” Pappu writes, as he explains why Major League Baseball subsequently made rule changes to benefit batters, such as shrinking the strike zone and lowering the pitcher’s mound. Pappu gives a comprehensive look at the careers of the two superstars of that year, Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals and Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers. As Pappu moves from their early years to the final legendary World Series battle between their two teams, he skillfully weaves the two players’ contrasting styles—McLain’s brazenness and “visions of grandeur” and Gibson’s steely gaze and “fierce persona”—into a larger story about the pitchers’ effect on baseball; changing attitudes about players’ rights; and the shadow of politics and race cast over the sport during the year of the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. With skillful writing, Pappu also illuminates the ongoing role of Jackie Robinson as he brings to life the events of this tumultuous year. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-328-76813-1
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-328-55728-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-977366-06-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-977316-06-6
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