By Fred Wallace
McLain, Gibson & 1968
Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".
The Christmas tradition for more than 30 years for me has been to cozy up with a good sports book.
Sometimes the book is under the tree, other times, like this year, it's a book I've purchased somewhere along the line and saved for Christmas reading.
When the Owen Sound Attack were in Saginaw this Fall, I wondered into Barnes & Noble on Tittabawassee Road and was intrigued by " The Year of the Pitcher " authored by Sridhar Pappu.
The book primarily chronicles the respective history and then climaxes with the storied 1968 Major League season for pitchers Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Bob Gibson from the St Louis Cardinals.
McLain won 31 games that season, the last pitcher to hit that mark.
Gibson had an ERA of 1.12 and gave up 1 run or less in 24 starts.
And while the skills and success of McLain and Gibson are well documented, what makes " The Year of the Pitcher " so riveting are the corresponding events inside and outside of baseball.
Jackie Robinson, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Marvin Miller and the rise of the MLBPA, Viet Nam, Bob Hope, the Olympic Games, Richard Nixon...and so much more.
" The Year of the Pitcher " isn't a heroic or sweet story about 2 pitchers who led their respective teams to a meeting in the World Series, but rather it's a fascinating time capsule of what we remember well and what we ignored or overlooked in 1968.
I'm Fred Wallace