Summer of '68 by Tim Wendel
The Season That Changed Baseball--and America--Forever

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Synopsis

The extraordinary story of the 1968 baseball season—when the game was played to perfection even as the country was being pulled apart at the seams

From the beginning, ’68 was a season rocked by national tragedy and sweeping change. Opening Day was postponed and later played in the shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral. That summer, as the pennant races were heating up, the assassination of Robert Kennedy was later followed by rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. But even as tensions boiled over and violence spilled into the streets, something remarkable was happening in major league ballparks across the country. Pitchers were dominating like never before, and with records falling and shut-outs mounting, many began hailing ’68 as “The Year of the Pitcher.”

In Summer of ’68, Tim Wendel takes us on a wild ride through a season that saw such legends as Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Don Drysdale, and Luis Tiant set new standards for excellence on the mound, each chasing perfection against the backdrop of one of the most divisive and turbulent years in American history. For some players, baseball would become an insular retreat from the turmoil encircling them that season, but for a select few, including Gibson and the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, the conflicts of ’68 would spur their performances to incredible heights and set the stage for their own run at history.

Meanwhile in Detroit—which had burned just the summer before during one of the worst riots in American history—’68 instead found the city rallying together behind a colorful Tigers team led by McLain, Mickey Lolich, Willie Horton, and Al Kaline. The Tigers would finish atop the American League, setting themselves on a highly anticipated collision course with Gibson’s Cardinals. And with both teams’ seasons culminating in a thrilling World Series for the ages—one team playing to establish a dynasty, the other fighting to help pull a city from the ashes—what ultimately lay at stake was something even larger: baseball’s place in a rapidly changing America that would never be the same.

In vivid, novelistic detail, Summer of ’68 tells the story of this unforgettable season—the last before rule changes and expansion would alter baseball forever—when the country was captivated by the national pastime at the moment it needed the game most.

 

 

About Tim Wendel

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Tim Wendel is the author of nine books, including High Heat, Far From Home, Red Rain, and Castro's Curveball. A founding editor of USA Today Baseball Weekly, he has written for Esquire, GQ, and Washingtonian magazines. He teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University and has appeared on CNN, ESPN, SiriusXM, and NPR, and recently served as an exhibit advisor to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He lives in Vienna, Virginia. www.timwendel.com
 
Published March 12, 2013 by Da Capo Press. 306 pages
Genres: History, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Summer of '68

Kirkus Reviews

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In addition to McLain and Gibson’s heroics (both won the Cy Young and MVP awards), the season saw five no-hitters (including a perfect game by Catfish Hunter), a consecutive game strikeout record by Luis Tiant and an unprecedented scoreless innings streak by Don Drysdale.

Feb 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

Publishers Weekly

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Sportswriter Wendel (High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball) mines one of baseball’s more absorbing episodes in this rich chronicle of the 1968 season. It’s a sociologically resonant account, a

Feb 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

Publishers Weekly

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Wendel provides telling color commentary—the contrast between the obsessive, steely-eyed Gibson and McClain, a flamboyant press-hound angling for a Vegas nightclub gig, is especially vivid—and sharp analyses of on-field strategizing and play-by-play.

Feb 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

BC Books

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Tim Wendel’s book, Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball — and America — Forever, bestows upon baseball fans an interesting perspective on the 1968 baseball season.

Apr 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

New York Journal of Books

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“Mr. Wendel engagingly presents the facts of what was a game-changing year in American history for baseball, .

Mar 13 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

New York Journal of Books

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“Mr. Wendel engagingly presents the facts of what was a game-changing year in American history for baseball, . . .”

Mar 13 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

Washington Independent Review of Books

The story loses momentum every time Wendel looks away from the game to national events or — oddly — other sports, even movies.

May 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

Seattle PI

Tim Wendel's book, Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball -- and America -- Forever bestows upon baseball fans an interesting perspective on the 1968 baseball season.

Apr 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

Baseball Reflections

By the time the Series does start, the reader feels like he knows the main players from both teams extremely well and may find themselves rooting for both sides at various times throughout the Series based on which players has stories they identified with the most.

Apr 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Summer of '68: The Season Tha...

Reader Rating for Summer of '68
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