Bowdoin Reads

Professor Conlan is reading...

The Pitch That Killed: The Story of Carl Mays, Ray Chapman, and the Pennant Race of 1920
by Mike Sowell

This book characterized as "the best baseball book no one has read" recounts the death of Ray Chapman, the shortstop of the Cleveland Indians, in 1920. It also provides great insight into the very different nature of the game at that time and reveals how the players dealt with the sudden loss of their beloved teammate by winning the World Series--the first time that this happened for the Indians. The Series itself witnessed the first grand slam in the World Series, as well as the only unassisted triple play. Perhaps most remarkably, a Cleveland team actually won! This would only happen again in 1948. I am now reading about how a young shortstop named Joe Sewell replaced Chapman in mid-season, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career (he never broke his bat in 14 years of play, and twice only struck out three times a season). Reading the narrative, and getting a sense of the newspapers accounts, I realize that this country, and a city like Cleveland have changed remarkably over the past 90 years. And yet, the game itself remains timeless, still recognizable to this day, as too do traces such as Sewell's unbreakable bat. A good summer baseball read.

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