Even though there are still a few weeks to go in the season, the end is coming, and so I’ve gravitated to a few titles that deal with putting a season under wraps.
The first is Walkoffs, Last Licks and Final Outs, by Bill Chuck and Jim Kaplan, a title from the good folks at ACTA Sports that looks at how some of the biggest games and names called it a wrap.
The book, which has chapters looking at pennant races, World Series, perfect games, streaks, stadiums, final goodbyes, Hall of Fame farewells and “The Last Chapter,” does a fairly nice job of summarizing how some big games ended and some big names walked away from the game.
As it recaps some of these stories, the book can lean a bit to the dry side – simply recapping the basic notes that made the games memorable. With stories dating back to the early 1900s, there is a decent amount to sift through, since almost every year is represented.
It took a while to find something a bit deeper that reached my philosophical side — it was page 86, which highlights game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Reds and Red Sox, where Carlton Fisk hit a 12th inning homerun to win the game, and created a lasting replay of him bouncing up the first base line waving his arms in an attempt to keep the ball fair. It worked, and the game became known to some as the game that saved baseball, as it brought the entertainment value back to the game that had been angering fans with rising free agent salaries.
The authors deflect some of the attention from that game, saying baseball “always survives the sins of those who play it, the men in blue who umpire it, those of us who cover it, those of you who watch it, and especially those who run it.”
It was a shining moment in the book that got me through the balance of it; the lack of analysis or explaining the importance of some of the games left me wanting to understand more about them. Sometimes I want to see major historical importance in every event, even though it’s not always there.
The book came across a bit dry to me just too much – there are a lot of games that just don’t have the significance I look to provide deeper thought and analysis about the game.
One major benefit of the book – it provides a tremendous amount of trivia and “do you remember?” moments. As someone who is always in need of more trivia and talking points, this did provide a nice addition to my inventory and will keep a place on the shelf close to my work area. I don’t doubt for a minute that I’ll be able to reference this book regularly with good results.
Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs would be a fun read for history buffs and those wanting to be reminded of the ways that games, players, and even stadiums ended throughout baseball. I wouldn’t say it’s a must read, but I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you did.