Wednesday 29 March 2023

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry

Every year as baseball season approaches, I pick a baseball book to read. This year it was Bottom of the 33rd, about the longest game in baseball history.

On April 18, 1981, a ball game sprang eternal. For eight hours, the night seemed to suspend a town and two teams between their collective pasts and futures, between their collective sorrows and joys—the shivering fans; their wives at home; the umpires; the batboys approaching manhood; the ejected manager, peering through a hole in the backstop; the sportswriters and broadcasters; and the players themselves—two destined for the Hall of Fame (Cal Ripken and Wade Boggs), the few to play only briefly or forgettably in the big leagues, and the many stuck in minor-league purgatory, duty bound and loyal forever to the game. 

With Bottom of the 33rd, Barry delivers a lyrical meditation on small-town lives, minor-league dreams, and the elements of time and community that conspired one fateful night to produce a baseball game seemingly without end. An unforgettable portrait of ambition and endurance, Bottom of the 33rd is the rare sports book that changes the way we perceive America’s pastime—and America’s past.

I remember hearing about this game the morning after it happened, so reading about it was fun. Some big names were in that game, too. Cal Ripken Jr, Wade Boggs, Bruce Hurst, who all went on to be superstars. 

So how do you fill a book about a single ball game. With back stories of the players and others involved in the game. Surprising how interesting most of them were.

This is a must read for every baseball fan out there. 

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