A former senior editor for Sports Illustrated returns with a highly detailed account of a bizarre 1979 game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs: The final score, in 10 innings, was 23-22.
In this comprehensive narrative, nothing gets by Cook (Electric October: Seven World Series Games, Six Lives, Five Minutes of Fame that Lasted Forever, 2017, etc.). After a bit of background and history—the two teams, baseball in general, Wrigley Field—the author takes us through 20 swift chapters, each devoted to a half-inning of this weird game at Wrigley on May 17, 1979. In each chapter, he focuses on a player or two—or a manager—and provides a brief biography and a discussion of how he ended up at Wrigley that day. Many of the names will be familiar even to casual baseball fans: Bill Buckner, Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Tim McCarver, Dave Kingman; others, not so much, except to fans of the teams or to devoted fans of the game—e.g., Jerry Martin, Bill Caudill, Ray Burris. Cook weaves their stories in and out of the narrative, thereby enriching his well-researched tale as he proceeds. Following the last out in the 10th, the author concludes with explorations of what happened to the teams and to some of the principals afterward. We learn more about Buckner’s famous error in the 1986 World Series, Pete Rose’s fall from grace (gambling), and catcher Bob Boone’s remarkable family (his sons played in the major league as well). But the most disturbing story involves Cubs’ reliever Donnie Moore: He was a talented pitcher but was a serial abuser of his wife; his abuse grew grotesquely grim when, in a rage in 1989, he shot her several times (she survived) before killing himself.
Fine, tasty fare for dedicated baseball fans.