SUMMER OF '98 by Mike Lupica


When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Basebdall Reclaimed America
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The renowned sportswriter strikes out in this treacly paean to fathers, sons, and America’s (presumed) national pasttime. In many respects, it was indeed a great summer: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made the hottest home run race ever into a lovefest; 20-year-old pitching phenom Kerry Woods baffled batters with astounding regularity, while another, older pitcher, “Rocket” Roger Clemens, remained unhittable; the Yankees turned warm and fuzzy while notching the most formidable campaign since the dead-ball era; hell, even the Cubs and Red Sox contended! As his father had done for him years ago, sports columnist and novelist Lupica (Jump, 1996; Dead Air,1986; etc.) nurtured his sons’ relationship with the game during this splendid season. He took them to “work,” left recaps on the kitchen table of games that ended past bedtime, and generally mooned over their precocious love of baseball. On the surface, it’s the feel-good story of the year. Scratch this facade, however, and one soon realizes that the game looks much rosier when seen from a journalist’s-eye view, from press boxes, luxury suites, and dugouts; players seem more human when one hobnobs with them in talk show “green rooms.” Viewed from the average fan’s overpriced nosebleed seats, the game arguably looks as petty, cold, and mean as ever. Although the author is generally amiable, his cluelessness seems to say, “Let them eat $7 hot dogs!”The claim Lupica makes in the subtitle summarizes the book’s weakness. Yes, records fell, yes, turnstiles whirred at a record pace (although the numbers were padded by league expansion). Nevertheless, in the real world, players and owners aren’t ready to “reclaim” the fans—or claim anything, for that matter, except poverty when contract negotiations or public stadium referendums come around each year.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1999
ISBN: 0-399-14514-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999


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