The Greatest Game Ever: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of ’78 — by Richard Bradley

Few topics seem as unresolvable as what was the greatest game ever played. As I sit at Safeco Field today, the Mariners are playing their 5,000th regular season game – imagine trying to pick the greatest out of just that group.

But Richard Bradley contends that the playoff game to determine the 1978 American League East Division champion ranks as the greatest ever – and he’s going to tell you all about it in his new book.

The book works because Bradley doesn’t make the case for one team or another — he manages to play it pretty much down the middle. Not being a fan of either team, nor old enough to remember the game or invested enough in the relationship to care about it currently, I wasn’t interested in being swayed to one side or the other, and luckily I wasn’t.

As I’ve read other critiques of the book – something I’ve noticed is a handful of errors in the work, ranging from incorrect game scores to incorrectly identifying whether a player was right-handed or left-handed. I’m the first to admit that my eye wasn’t looking for errors when I read it, and I haven’t gone back and fact-checked everything, something I’m becoming inclined to do when I have a bit more time on my hands.

I’m not going to be an apologist for errors — the truth is that there shouldn’t be any in a well-written and well-researched book. If you have a vivid memory of that game and those teams, you’ll probably be raising your eyebrows throughout the book.

The format of the book works well – putting each half inning at a time into its own chapter and interspersing a chapter of background story between them. Every game is played with context and history, and this game is no exception. For those of us who weren’t there for the game, these chapters are incredibly beneficial as they help paint the picture that the game action happens within.

Had the book been error free, I would have given it a whole-hearted recommendation, not just for those interested in that particular game or these particular teams, but for those who enjoy well written game recaps and baseball history. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is one of the best in sports, and to see a key game 30 years later captured in such a well-written and well-executed book is a treat. Just read it with a critical eye.

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