cover image PERFECT: The Inside Story of Baseball's Sixteen Perfect Games

PERFECT: The Inside Story of Baseball's Sixteen Perfect Games

James Buckley, Jr.. Triumph, $22.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-57243-454-7

Buckley (The Visual Dictionary of Baseball and Play Ball: The Official Major League Baseball Guide for Young Players) offers a breezy infield-banter tone to his scenarios of baseball's 16 perfect games, events in a stadium that could be overshadowed only by the apparition of Abner Doubleday in the upper deck. Buckley is a bleacher bum: "what ifs" abound throughout the thin bleacher talk analysis. While his press-box chatter can get tiresome, it does work in the last chapter, "Nearly Perfect," about those who "also-pitched," such as Pirate Harvey Haddix whose 12 innings of perfect ball were lost to the record books by a hit in the 13th inning. Certainly Buckley is too casual for baseball's elevated class of statisticians: perfect games are located in the deep stats outfield but he offers only a few averages (perfect games occur "about once every 7.5 years") and mentions an individual perfect game probability theorem as "a formula so complicated I won't even bother to explain it." In the end, he doesn't explain much about the significance of a perfect game, but casual readers and fans will leave the book with Buckley's hoots and cheers ringing in their ears. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar)