“50 YEARS AGO TODAY: 42-year-old Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves and 25-year-old Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants hooked up in a 16-inning duel ended only when Willie Mays homered leading off the last inning. Both pitchers went all the way. Jim Kaplan wrote a great book on the event: “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched.” Courtesy of Dan Schlossberg, Facebook”
Nothing like promoting one of my favorite books to get me back in the blogosphere. I’ve been adrift for nearly a month now and missed it terribly, but had to take a minute to comment on two of my favorite baseball heroes and one of the many special moments in baseball history.
I was one year out of high school when I witnessed this game (via the sports section unfortunately and not in person) but I remember the stats well. The book takes a few chapters to get into the game, dwelling on the individual pitchers, Marichal and Spahn, instead. But Kaplan’s insight is purposeful and steady and I found myself grasping each page instead of skipping directly to the game which is what I intended to do when I cuddled up to spend the entire day recapturing the memories of the game.
My enthrallment with Juan Marichal began a few years ago when I watched an in-depth interview Bob Costas had with him. He’s really a very humble man and the honesty he portrayed when talking about the awful incident when he lost his temper and went after an opposing player, with a bat no less, that put the fellow in the hospital was painful to listen to. But I didn’t doubt his sincerity when he spoke about it saying it was the one regret he had during his baseball career. And it didn’t surprise me that the two of them ended up being good friends in the end.
As usual, I won’t go into details about the book or the game since there’s huge amounts of readily available data written about both. I just wanted to take some time to comment on the game and also to thank you for the kind notes I’ve received as I’ve been on a mini-vacation from blogging this past month.
It’s nearly time for the All Star break when baseball starts to take shape for the rest of the season, and when, hopefully, the Giants (and others, of course) start getting their act together . When you look at the Divisions, it’s amazing to see that the Dodgers are only 3 1/2 games behind in the NL West, but are in the cellar, with the Giants 3 games behind and only 1/2 game ahead of the Dodgers.
So it’s going to be an interesting and fun rest of the year for all of us baseball fans. Will there be a sequel to this greatest game? Maybe. I’m sure the thrill of victory and agony of defeat had its origins in baseball so why should we possibly expect anything less?