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From the perspective of 2007, the unintentional irony of Chance's boast is manifest—these days, the question is when will the Cubs ever win a game they have to have. In October 1908, though, no one would have laughed: The Cubs were, without doubt, baseball's greatest team—the first dynasty of the 20th century.

Crazy '08 recounts the 1908 season—the year when Peerless Leader Frank Chance's men went toe to toe to toe with John McGraw and Christy Mathewson's New York Giants and Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates in the greatest pennant race the National League has ever seen. The American League has its own three-cornered pennant fight, and players like Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and the egregiously crooked Hal Chase ensured that the junior circuit had its moments. But it was the National League's—and the Cubs'—year.

Crazy '08, however, is not just the exciting story of a great season. It is also about the forces that created modern baseball, and the America that produced it. In 1908, crooked pols run Chicago's First Ward, and gambling magnates control the Yankees. Fans regularly invade the field to do handstands or argue with the umps; others shoot guns from rickety grandstands prone to burning. There are anarchists on the loose and racial killings in the town that made Lincoln. On the flimsiest of pretexts, General Abner Doubleday becomes a symbol of Americanism, and baseball's own anthem, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," is a hit.

Picaresque and dramatic, 1908 is a season in which so many weird and wonderful things happen that it is somehow unsurprising that a hairpiece, a swarm of gnats, a sudden bout of lumbago, and a disaster down in the mines all play a role in its outcome. And sometimes the events are not so wonderful at all. There are several deaths by baseball, and the shadow of corruption creeps closer to the heart of baseball—the honesty of the game itself. Simply put, 1908 is the year that baseball grew up.

Oh, and it was the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

Destined to be as memorable as the season it documents, Crazy '08 sets a new standard for what a book about baseball can be.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061844324
List price: $10.99
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This is not just the story of baseball in 1908, it is a story of the United State in 1908.Probably best appreciated by a true baseball fan; I never did keep up with who was on what team since I am not a baseball fan – true or otherwise. But the evolution of the game was interesting, and what was happening in American society was fascinating.I heard strange echoes of the future as I was reading it. I heard “drill, baby, drill” as I was reading the chant “run, baby, run”. Before google became a verb, Fred Merkle failed to touch 2nd base and thereafter “to merkle” gained the meaning of “to not arrive”.I honestly don’t know if 1908 was the greatest year in baseball as the author claims but it certainly had more then its fair share of characters, legends, and controversy.read more
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This book is a history of the pennant races in major league baseball in 1908. Lots of interesting stuff, and a cast of characters that includes Mordecai Three-finger Brown, Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and, of course, Tinker, Evers and Chance. Still, I found reading it somewhat tedious despite the baseball color and the author's efforts to tie what baseball history to the social history of the turn of the century. I'm not sure why it was a slog, as the writing is pretty good--maybe just too much jumping around as the author follows each of the six teams involved in the National and American League pennant races. So it only gets three stars from me.read more
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This is a great book-both a great baseball book and a social history. I've read many baseball books, including David Anderson's "More Than Merkle," also about the '08 season. None are able share the excitement of a dramatic baseball season interwoven with the themes and interesting details of a social context. I would compare Crazy '08 with Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit." As a historian, I was also incredibly impressed with Murphy's careful footnoting, and massive bibliography, which I consider a guide to future reading. Strongly recommended.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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This is not just the story of baseball in 1908, it is a story of the United State in 1908.Probably best appreciated by a true baseball fan; I never did keep up with who was on what team since I am not a baseball fan – true or otherwise. But the evolution of the game was interesting, and what was happening in American society was fascinating.I heard strange echoes of the future as I was reading it. I heard “drill, baby, drill” as I was reading the chant “run, baby, run”. Before google became a verb, Fred Merkle failed to touch 2nd base and thereafter “to merkle” gained the meaning of “to not arrive”.I honestly don’t know if 1908 was the greatest year in baseball as the author claims but it certainly had more then its fair share of characters, legends, and controversy.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book is a history of the pennant races in major league baseball in 1908. Lots of interesting stuff, and a cast of characters that includes Mordecai Three-finger Brown, Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and, of course, Tinker, Evers and Chance. Still, I found reading it somewhat tedious despite the baseball color and the author's efforts to tie what baseball history to the social history of the turn of the century. I'm not sure why it was a slog, as the writing is pretty good--maybe just too much jumping around as the author follows each of the six teams involved in the National and American League pennant races. So it only gets three stars from me.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a great book-both a great baseball book and a social history. I've read many baseball books, including David Anderson's "More Than Merkle," also about the '08 season. None are able share the excitement of a dramatic baseball season interwoven with the themes and interesting details of a social context. I would compare Crazy '08 with Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit." As a historian, I was also incredibly impressed with Murphy's careful footnoting, and massive bibliography, which I consider a guide to future reading. Strongly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"Crazy '08..." is a well-researched, fascinating look at the 1908 baseball season - or as author Cait Murphy described it, "one of the greatest seasons in baseball's history". The book spends a majority of its time going over the trials and tribulations of the Cubs, Giants, and the Pirates as they fight their way, both figuratively and literally, through the long season. These three squads kept baseball fans in suspense until the very last day of the season - and even beyond due to the tie-breaking game that was needed to determine the pennant winner.Many of the baseball's greatest get their due by Murphy as the reader progresses through the book. Those greats highlighted in detail are: Cubs - Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, and Joe Tinker (the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance), and their outstanding pitcher, Three-Finger Brown; Giants - manager John McGraw, pitcher extraordinaire Christy Mathewson, and the unfortunate Fred Merkle; and the Pirate's peerless shortstop, Honus Wagner. There are other greats mentioned throughout the book, but Murphy really concentrates on these players.I've read a number of outstanding baseball histories over the years, but none have had the combination of pathos, humor, and intelligence that this book did. Fans of baseball history who enjoyed Lawrence Ritter's fabulous "Glory of Their Times" and anything written by baseball writers Donald Honig or John Thorn, will love "Crazy '08".
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I love many sports and own a fair amount of books for each of my favorites, but there's something about baseball that translates really, really well into literature. I think it's mainly because the game hasn't really changed THAT much over the years - it's easy to read about the exploits of Babe Ruth and picture it in your mind without it being totally dated, for example. Anyhow, this is a fun read about the 1908 baseball season, one that the author makes a case for as being the best season ever. I'm not sure if that's true, but the evidence here is compelling. There's a ton of info about all the teams and players involved in the pennant race of that year, and it is thoroughly researched and annotated. It's not wall-to-wall brilliant, though - there are a couple of factual errors in spots (Shibe Park was built for the Athletics, not the Phillies, for example), and it seems as though the AL race, despite being exciting in its own right, gets short-shrifted in comparison to the NL. Also, the World Series gets about two pages of coverage, since it is described as being disappointing. This does indeed appear to be the case, but to me, it felt a little unsatisfying to get all this buildup and then have it evaporate into thin air at the end (which is also a knock against this being the best season ever, actually). Still, despite my issues, this is worth picking up, and if you're a Cubs fan like me, it's amusing (and a little saddening) to think that there was once a time where the Cubs could legitimately be considered a dynasty.
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