The Old Ball Game by Frank Deford
How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball

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Synopsis

In The Old Ball Game, Frank Deford, NPR sports commentator and Sports Illustrated journalist retells the story of an unusual friendship between two towering figures in baseball history.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Christy Mathewson was one of baseball's first superstars. Over six feet tall, clean cut, and college educated, he didn't pitch on the Sabbath and rarely spoke an ill word about anyone. He also had one of the most devastating arms in all of baseball. New York Giants manager John McGraw, by contrast, was ferocious. The pugnacious tough guy was already a star infielder who, with the Baltimore Orioles, helped develop a new, scrappy style of baseball, with plays like the hit-and-run, the Baltimore chop, and the squeeze play. When McGraw joined the Giants in 1902, the Giants were coming off their worst season ever. Yet within three years, Mathewson clinched New York City's first World Series for McGraw's team by throwing three straight shutouts in only six days, an incredible feat that is invariably called the greatest World Series performance ever. Because of their wonderful odd-couple association, baseball had its first superstar, the Giants ascended into legend, and baseball as a national pastime bloomed.
 

About Frank Deford

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The author of fourteen books, Frank Deford has worked in virtually every medium. He is senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated, where his byline first appeared in 1962. A weekly commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, he is also a regular correspondent on the HBO show Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. As a journalist, Deford was most recently presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, and has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of the Year six times, he was also cited by The American Journalism Review as the nation's finest sportswriter and was twice voted Magazine Writer of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review. He has been presented with a Christopher Award and awards for distinguished service to journalism from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University. For his radio and TV work, Deford has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award.
 
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 256 pages
Genres: Sports & Outdoors, History. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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One of our more melodious sportswriters details the importance of Mathewson and McGraw in raising baseball to the status of a national pastime.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Old Ball Game: How John M...

The New York Times

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From Frank Deford, a portrait of Christy Mathewson and John McGraw, who helped baseball conquer America.

May 01 2005 | Read Full Review of The Old Ball Game: How John M...

BC Books

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From the polo fields of the gentleman came the passtime of the everyman.

Sep 18 2005 | Read Full Review of The Old Ball Game: How John M...

Examiner

Frank Deford’s The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball is a great book to read this month.

Mar 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Old Ball Game: How John M...

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