One of the things that keeps me watching baseball is its sense of history. The icons (buildings, clubs, players) always loom. One of my favorite books was “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton. I wound up having a conversation with Mr. Bouton on a completely different matter and of course, he offered to inscribe my copy. This is after who I realized with whom I was chatting and let professional stances head right out the door. I’ve digested his other works including his leading the battle to keep the local minor league stadium in his current hometown afloat. From there, I’ve digested the works of Thomas Boswell, David Halberstram, Peter Gammons and many others. It’s no coincidence that some of the better baseball movies come from the less glamourous moments, because that is often where the best stories are.
It was a kick to pick up “The First Fall Classic” by Mike Vaccaro. Mike was two years behind me at St. Bonaventure University and tells a great tale of what remains (in the words of his publisher), “nearly a century later, the greatest World Series ever played. In October of 1912, seven years before gambling nearly destroyed the sport, the world of baseball got lucky. It would get two teams-the Boston Red Sox and the New York Giants, winners of a combined 208 games during the regular season-who may well have been the two finest ball clubs ever assembled to that point. Most importantly, during the course of eight games spanning nine days in that marvelous baseball autumn, they would elevate the World Series from a regional October novelty to a national obsession. The games would fight for space on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers, battling both an assassin’s bullet and the most sensational trial of the young century, with the Series often carrying the day and earning the “wood.” In THE FIRST FALL CLASSIC, veteran sports journalist and author Mike Vaccaro brings to life a bygone era in cinematic and intimate detail-and gives fans a wonderful page-turner that re-creates the magic and suspense of the world’s first great series.”
I have an affinity for the publishers notes since I used to write them. I remember the first time I read “Eight Men Out” by Eliot Asimov. He told story elements like they were bullet points. You saw the scene but there was no extraneous materials. Mike gives the lesser known tale of the 1912 Series a great cinematic feel which is even more impressive since the actual visuals aren’t necessarily ready at hand. It’s a tremendous work and I’m glad to see somebody I knew deserve the glowing reviews he is currently receiving. There is no grand collection of highlights to cull from but having the book, I feel like I’ve seen them.
Nice job, Mike