The Old Ball Game
The Old Ball Game
How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball
Grove/Atlantic, Paperback, 9780802142474, 241pp.
Publication Date: March 2, 2006
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.
dozen books, he has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters and has been awarded both an Emmy and a Peabody. Two of his books, Everybody's All-American and Alex: The Life of a Child, a memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis, have been made into movies. Sporting News describes Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media" and GQ simply calls him "the world's greatest sportswriter." Deford resides in Connecticut with his wife, Carol.