The year of the pitcher Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the end of baseball's golden age

Sridhar Pappu

Book - 2017

"The Year of the Pitcher is the story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series contests ever, with the Detroit Tigers coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cardinals in Game Seven of the World Series. In 1968, two remarkable pitchers would dominate the game as well as the broadsheets. One was black, the other white. Bob Gibson, together with the St. Louis Cardinals, embodied an entire generation's hope for integration at a heated... moment in American history. Denny McLain, his adversary, was a crass self-promoter who eschewed the team charter and his Detroit Tigers teammates to zip cross-country in his own plane. For one season, the nation watched as these two men and their teams swept their respective league championships to meet at the World Series. Gibson set a major league record that year with a 1.12 ERA. McLain won more than 30 games in 1968, a feat not achieved since 1934 and untouched since. Together, the two have come to stand as iconic symbols, giving the fans "The Year of the Pitcher" and changing the game. Evoking a nostalgic season and its incredible characters, this is the story of one of the great rivalries in sports and an indelible portrait of the national pastime during a turbulent year--and the two men who electrified fans from all walks of life"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017.
Language
English
Physical Description
xv, 381 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 368-372) and index.
ISBN
9780547719276
0547719272
Main Author
Sridhar Pappu (author)
  • Prologue: Hope
  • Silent Film
  • Lost Fathers
  • Rising
  • Testimony of Pilots
  • The Break
  • Into the City of Ashes
  • A Black Man Wins in Boston
  • Winter of Recriminations
  • The Silent Spring
  • 8:45
  • Out There
  • Unclenched Fists
  • President of the World
  • A Lousy Pitcher
  • Talk to Me
  • Old Men
  • Trouble
  • Seventeen
  • Mudders
  • Anthems
  • Slipping
  • After the Fall
  • Epilogue.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The argument made by New York Times columnist Pappu ("The Male Animal")—that Detroit's beloved 1968 World Series champs could not bring peace, brotherhood, and prosperity to that city's riot-torn streets—is something of a paper tiger, self-evident in Detroit's sad, unwavering decline from that era well into the twenty-first century. Still, Pappu delivers a compelling narrative of that landmark season—the Cardinals' focused, intensely driven Bob Gibson was compiling an astonishing 1.12 ERA as the Tigers' iconoclastic, self-absorbed Denny McLain was winning 31 games—while laying out the too-real sociopolitical context in which the team, and Major League baseball, often clumsily operated. Whatever balm sports might apply to the pain and injustice in our world, Pappu seems to conclude, it's not enough. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The extraordinary 1968 baseball season is known as the year of the pitcher and included two of finest pitchers of all time: Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals. Gibson set a modern-era major league record, finishing with a 1.12 earned run average. Meanwhile, McLain was the last person to win more than 30 games (he finished with 33), a record that has yet to be broken. New York Times columnist Pappu offers an exciting look into that legendary season, beautifully capturing both pitchers' fascinating journeys throughout their careers. The author effectively interweaves the stories of McLain and Gibson in an engaging fashion, engrossing readers with the rivalry of Detroit and St. Louis. Enjoyable chapters describe the lead up to one of the most exciting World Series in baseball history, in which Detroit came back to win the championship from a 3–1 deficit. VERDICT Devoted baseball fans will appreciate this story from one of major league's best years.—Gus Palas, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Tells the extraordinary story of the 1968 baseball season, which became one of the greatest World Series contests ever, as two remarkable pitchers—one black, the other white—dominated the game as well as the broadsheets, setting major league records and electrifying fans from all walks of life. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The Year of the Pitcher is the story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series contests ever, with the Detroit Tigers coming back from a 3–1 deficit to beat the Cardinals in Game Seven of the World Series. In 1968, two remarkable pitchers would dominate the game as well as the broadsheets. One was black, the other white. Bob Gibson, together with the St. Louis Cardinals, embodied an entire generation's hope for integration at a heated moment in American history. Denny McLain, his adversary, was a crass self-promoter who eschewed the team charter and his Detroit Tigers teammates to zip cross-country in his own plane. For one season, the nation watched as these two men and their teams swept their respective league championships to meet at the World Series. Gibson set a major league record that year with a 1.12 ERA. McLain won more than 30 games in 1968, a feat not achieved since 1934 and untouched since. Together, the two have come to stand as iconic symbols, giving the fans “The Year of the Pitcher” and changing the game. Evoking a nostalgic season and its incredible characters, this is the story of one of the great rivalries in sports and an indelible portrait of the national pastime during a turbulent year—and the two men who electrified fans from all walks of life.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Year of the Pitcher is the story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series contests ever, with the Detroit Tigers coming back from a 3'1 deficit to beat the Cardinals in Game Seven of the World Series. In 1968, two remarkable pitchers would dominate the game as well as the broadsheets. One was black, the other white. Bob Gibson, together with the St. Louis Cardinals, embodied an entire generation's hope for integration at a heated moment in American history. Denny McLain, his adversary, was a crass self-promoter who eschewed the team charter and his Detroit Tigers teammates to zip cross-country in his own plane. For one season, the nation watched as these two men and their teams swept their respective league championships to meet at the World Series. Gibson set a major league record that year with a 1.12 ERA. McLain won more than 30 games in 1968, a feat not achieved since 1934 and untouched since. Together, the two have come to stand as iconic symbols, giving the fans 'the Year of the Pitcher' and changing the game. Evoking a nostalgic season and its incredible characters, this is the story of one of the great rivalries in sports and an indelible portrait of the national pastime during a turbulent year'and the two men who electrified fans from all walks of life.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season: an epic battle of pitchers, Bob Gibson and Denny McClain, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series of all time  

Review by Publisher Summary 5

The story of the remarkable 1968 baseball season: an epic battle of pitchers, Bob Gibson and Denny McClain, which culminated in one of the greatest World Series of all time