Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game

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Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
ISBN: 9780062068279
ISBN10: 006206827X
Pages: 257 pages

1981 Pawtucket Red Sox team photo Courtesy of the Pawtucket Red Sox
Topps 1982 Baltimore Orioles Future Stars card Courtesy of Topps Baseball Cards
Dave Koza connects on what would prove to be the game winner.

On April 18, 1981, a ball game sprang eternal. What began as a modestly attended minor-league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings became not only the longest ever played in baseball history, but something else entirely. The first pitch was thrown after dusk on Holy Saturday, and for the next eight hours the night seemed to suspend its participants between their collective pasts and futures, between their collective sorrows and joys—the ballplayers; the umpires; Pawtucket’s ejected manager, peering through a hole in the backstop; the sportswriters and broadcasters; a few stalwart fans shivering in the cold.

With Bottom of the 33rd, celebrated New York Times journalist Dan Barry has written a lyrical meditation on small-town lives, minor-league dreams, and the elements of time and community that conspired one fateful night to produce a baseball game seemingly without end. Bottom of the 33rd captures the sport’s essence: the purity of purpose, the crazy adherence to rules, the commitment of both players and fans. This genre-bending book, a reportorial triumph, portrays the myriad lives held in the night’s unrelenting grip. Consider, for instance, the team owner determined to revivify a decrepit stadium, built atop a swampy bog, or the batboy approaching manhood, nervous and earnest, or the umpire with a new family and a new home, or the wives watching or waiting up, listening to a radio broadcast slip into giddy exhaustion. Consider the small city of Pawtucket itself, its ghosts and relics, and the players, two destined for the Hall of Fame (Cal Ripken and Wade Boggs), a few to play only briefly or forgettably in the big leagues, and the many stuck in minor-league purgatory, duty bound and loyal to the game.


Los Angeles Times

Apr. 3, 2011 – Review by John Thurber. “The odd baseball season of 1981 comes into focus with this gripping tale of the longest game in modern history and those caught in its wake.” Full Review

USA Today

Apr. 14, 2011 – Review by Bob Minzesheimer. “It’s a great story that goes beyond baseball, about duty and love and second chances — on and off the field.” Full Review

Boston Globe

Apr. 15, 2011 – Review by Colin Fleming. “Bottom of the 33rd is replete with character studies and mini-biographies that reveal just how difficult it is to make it to this level of baseball, a level where no player is content to remain.” Full Review

Summer 2011 – “How do you describe a historical event with such detail that it seems to the reader as a current ongoing event? Dan Barry seeks the help of the key protagonists of the game – both on field and off – and with their help reconstructs with vivid detail (and not a small dose of wit) the event itself and its impact on the town of Pawtucket.”Full Review

Sep. 15, 2011 – “In Barry’s exquisitely written story of the game and the people that were involved in it, he examines the diminished Rhode Island city and the organization itself, from beloved owner Ben Mondor right down to the batboy.”Full Review

Kirkus Reviews

Feb. 15, 2011 – “New York Times columnist Dan Barry (City Lights: Stories About New York, 2007, etc.) delivers an all-angle take on the longest, and surely the strangest, game in baseball history.”Full Review

Publishers Review

Mar. 28, 2011 – Review by Michael Coffey. “A Classic Leads the Field. Dan Barry’s paean to the longest game ever played.” Full Review

Apr. 1, 2011 – Reviewby Mark Hodermarsky. “An astonishing tale that lyrically articulates baseball’s inexorable grip on its players and fans, Bottom of the 33rd belongs among the best baseball books ever written.” Full Review

Providence Journal

Apr. 6, 2011 – Review by John Monaghan. Barry blasts a homer inBottom of the 33rd. Full Review

Columbus Dispatch

Apr. 24, 2011 – Review by Nick Chordas. “Above all, Bottom of the 33rdcaptures that paradoxical notion of sport as a worthy – even noble – endeavor as well as a home for carnival-barker owners and overgrown boys clinging to playground dreams.” Full Review

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Apr. 23, 2011 – Review by Curt Brown. “The story of baseball’s longest game is a fast read. Whether you’re a baseball aficionado or a reader who just enjoys a good yarn, you’ll love this book.” Full Review

San Antonio Express-News

Apr. 24, 2011 – Review by Steve Bennett. “Every spring, a bumper crop of baseball books is published. Most of them are like fly balls to the warning track: We rise from our seats, eyes tracking the white dot, then sit back down with a groan. One sometimes makes it over the fence.” Full Review

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