Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Crazy '08 by Cait Murphy

Dynasty is not a word one would generally use to describe the Chicago Cubs. But in the first decade of the twentieth century they were just that...

Between 1906 and 1910 the Chicago Cubs appeared in the World Series four times (missing the series only in 1909), winning twice (1907 and 1908).

While the 1908 World Series was a bit of a snore with the Cubs handily defeating the Detroit Tigers in five games, the season and National League pennant race leading up to that Series was a nailbiter right to the very end with the Cubs, NY Giants, and Pittsburgh Pirates all in stiff competition for the NL pennant.

Crazy '08 is the story of that season.

Murphy's writing truly stands out. You can hear the cracks of the bats, the roars and jeers of the crowds, you can see in your minds eye the minutae of every game Murphy describes. You truly feel as though you're at the Polo Grounds or West Side Park (the predecessor to Wrigley Field). You can feel the wind on every pitch by "Matty" (Christy Mathewson) or "Three-Finger" Brown.

Crazy '08
isn't just a book, it's a time machine to the oft overlooked deadball era of baseball when the homeruns may have been few and far between, pitchers were iron-men who would not only pitch full games-- but sometimes even double-headers, and the game was much more fast-paced (some games wrapped up in as little as 72 minutes) and relied much more on offensive and defensive strategies as a result.

In addition to chronicling the 1908 baseball season, Murphy also describes the events of the day to put the reader within the context of the times. Making the book not just a snapshot of the deadball era of baseball, but of the events of 1908 in general.

If you only ever read one book about baseball Crazy '08 should be at the top of your list.

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