I have to admit, that when I was first approached to review Richard Bradley's new book, The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78, I was more then a little hesitant to check it out. The reasons should be fairly obvious because A) In the end evil conquers good B) Bucky Dent gets a new middle name and C) Yaz pops up to end the game. It'd be comparable to reading a book about the 1986 World Series (Which I've sort of done) and just seemed kind of masochistic.
What ended up swaying me to read The Greatest Game was because (I'm dating myself here) I was born one year after this "greatest game" and figured I should buff up on my knowledge of the history of the great (and recently frustrating) rivalry that is Red Sox vs. Yankees. I've already read David Halberstam's masterpiece, Summer of '49, which also ends poorly for the Sox fan so I figured it couldn't be too bad, and it wasn't, to a point.
Very early in the book you can see the skill that Richard Bradley posses as a writer, and it's no surprise that he has written for the likes of The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, George, and the New Republic. I think my favorite part of how he did the entire book is break the game and 1978 season into cohesive chucks volleying back and forth between the Sox and Yanks. He takes you from the end of the 1977 season through Spring Training, and to the climatic end of the '78 season. I also really appreciated how he profiled the players on each side of the diamond equally and in an unbiased way. Learning about the likes of Munson, Fisk, Yaz, and more was a true treat and a glimpse into that time.
Bradley paints a vivd,and at times painful picture of what baseball and its players were like back in the 1970's. People who know or live in Boston will get a kick out of the Yankees getting drunk the night at Daisy Buchanan's of all places (After a night involving too much tequila I've sworn off that place!), and it's little touches like that that assist you in remembering the men who played the game in a time that is now past. Free agency was still and infant, players were just entering mega-star staatus via Reggie Jackson, and an innosence still permiated the millions dollar game. Bottom line, this is a good book if you're a Sox fan, Yanks fan, or baseball fan.
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