One of the best baseball books of our time now out in paperback!
BOTTOM OF THE 33RD:
Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game
by Dan Barry
On the evening of April 18, 1981, the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox began a minor league baseball game in an old ballpark in the struggling mill city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was Holy Saturday night, few people were in the stands, and a cold wind was blowing. Because of human folly, bad judgment, and the vagaries of baseball, the tied ballgame lasted eight hours, well into Easter Sunday morning. At about 4:00 a.m., and with just 20 fans still in the stands, sanity finally took hold and the game was postponed. The game — now the longest in baseball history — resumed two months later, in front of a crowd of 6,000 that included members of the national and international media. It ended quickly in the 33rd inning, when a player who would never realize his major-league dreams drove in the winning run with a soft single. On the surface, the game is notable only for its length. When described in detail by award-winning journalist Dan Barry, though, it becomes a universal story of dedication and hope, failure and redemption.
An unforgettable portrait of ambition and endurance, BOTTOM OF THE 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game (Harper Perennial; Trade Paperback; On Sale: March 27, 2012; $14.99) is the rare sports book that changes the way we perceive its subject. That night in 1981 seemed to suspend its participants between their collective pasts and futures, between their collective sorrows and joys—the ballplayers; the broadcasters and umpires; a few stalwart fans, shivering in the cold; Pawtucket's manager, kicked out of the game but peering still through a hole in the backstop.
A triumph of in-depth reporting, BOTTOM OF THE 33rd delves into the many lives held in the night's unrelenting grip. Consider, for instance, the team owner determined to revive a decrepit stadium built atop a swampy bog; the batboy nicknamed “Panic,” approaching manhood, nervous and earnest; the umpire with a new family and a new home; the wives watching or waiting up, listening to an endless radio broadcast as they slip into giddy exhaustion. There is also the father and son in the stands who refuse to leave their spot in the bleachers, and the young wife of Pawtucket’s first baseman who, season after season, went with him to New England from their home in Wyoming, willing him to make it to the majors. Consider the small city of Pawtucket itself, its ghosts and relics, its empty brick mills and quiet downtown. It is a place that used to be something, a concept analogous to minor league baseball, where a player becomes old and expendable by the age of 27 or 28.
And then there are the players: two destined for the Hall of Fame, but many stuck in minor-league purgatory. BOTTOM OF THE 33rd is about the former major leaguers, the hard-luck players who can’t catch a break, and those hoping to become a “cup-of-coffee” guy: someone who is called up to the big leagues when another player is injured, but is sent back soon enough to the minors, never to return. These minor leaguers, toiling in baseball anonymity, keep playing—and, in Pawtucket that night, playing and playing—because they are duty-bound and loyal to the game. Thirty years later, Barry finds these players scattered around the country. One went on to sell vacuum cleaners; another drives a truck; a third became a missionary in Africa; and the hero of the game found redemption far from a ballfield.
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 without end, BOTTOM OF THE 33rd captures the sport's essence: the purity of purpose, the crazy adherence to rules, and the commitment of both players and fans.
An Irish Christmas
Dec. 20, 2012
In December 2012, the Irish Arts Center traveled to the Fordham University campus in the Bronx to stage "An Irish Christmas," a concert featuring the famed musician Mick Moloney and others, including me. I read a short work called "A Child's Christmas on Long Island."
Listen to the concert: Click here
Dan Barry visits ESPN's Bristol campus
Dec. 20, 2012
In December 2012, I was invited to do what is known as a "car wash" at ESPN, in which I visited the network's campus in Bristol, Connecticut, to discuss "Bottom of the 33rd" on television, on radio, and online. Buckle up, gang. It's all Dan... all the time.
This Land: Donna's Diner
Oct. 18, 2012 This is a multimedia project, with text and image, about the United States of 2012, as seen through a small diner in Elyria, a city of 55,000 in northeastern Ohio. It is a five-part series, accompanied by the evocative photographs of Nicole Bengiveno and several videos produced and edited by, among others: Nicole, Kassie Bracken, and Meaghan Looram, all of The New York Times.
Boston College Convocation
Sep. 13, 2012 In September 2012, I delivered a speech that attempted to make the themes of "Bottom of the 33rd" -- including redemption and the importance of failure -- relevant to the freshman class at Boston College. I measure success this way: Nothing was thrown at me.
To see Dan's speech in its entirety Click here
Dan Barry wins the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for Sports Literary Writing with Bottom of the 33rd.
Aug 29, 2012 - PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, today announced the winners and runners-up of the 2012 PEN Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. This year marks PEN’s 90th anniversary. For more than 50 of those years, PEN’s Literary Awards program has honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature.
This year's recipient of the PEN/ESPN Award for a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2011 is Dan Barry for his work Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game. This year's judges included Marshall Jon Fisher, Rob Fleder, and Mark Mulvoy.
Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2012 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City.
For a listing of all 2012 PEN Award winners and runners-up, please: Click here
Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World's Most Loved (And Hated) Team hits stores today.
Apr 3, 2012 - “The writing is alternately hilarious, nostalgic, heartbreaking, and touching... For all baseball fans, regardless of team alligiance." - Library Journal
Edited by Rob Fleder, former executive editor at Sports Illustrated, Damn Yankees is a collection of heartfelt stories from some of the biggest names in sports journalism including Frank Deford, Dan Okrent, Roy Blount Jr, Richard Hoffer, Bruce McCall, Leigh Montville, Jane Leavy, Rick Telander, Dan Barry, Tom Verducci, and Steve Rushin. Without a doubt, it is a work that is destined to spark endless debate.
Dan Barry's contribution to the book can be found online here.
Visit the Damn Yankees website: Click here
And the Game Played On...
Dan Barry interview with Gelf Magazine.
Apr 2, 2011 - A 33-inning minor-league baseball game from three decades ago captivated New York Times columnist Dan Barry's imagination.
Gelf Magazine spoke with Barry by phone about how he turned a 30-year-old game into a captivating book, about his love for minor-league ball, and about whether he's ever committed the cardinal sin of leaving a game early.
To read this interview in its entirety: Click here
Kirkus Review names Bottom of the 33rd one of its Best Nonfiction Books of 2011
Dec 5, 2011 - Writes Kirkus Editor Eric Liebetrau: "Choosing any “best-of” list is always a monumental undertaking, a task guaranteed to involve plenty of discussion, heated debate and perhaps even controversy. This year proved no less difficult, mainly due to the remarkable number of outstanding books published in 2011."
See all the Nonfiction nominees: Click here
Quickish Picks: Best Sports Books of 2011
Dec 4, 2011 -
Part of Quickish coverage throughout 2011 has been tracking the big book releases. Here is a list of the most recommended and notable sports books of the past year:
- Those Guys Have All The Fun (James Miller and Tom Shales): Must-read sports book of the year. New in paperback this week.
- The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach): Already earns a place in the sports-novel canon.
- The Extra 2% (Jonah Keri): Moneyball 2.0? How the Rays became the new A’s.
- Scorecasting (Moskowitz and Werthiem): Freakonomics x Sports
- Wonder Girl (Don Van Natta): The story of the greatest female athlete ever.
- Flip Flop Flyball (Craig Robinson): Brilliant and beautiful baseball infographics.
- Sweetness (Jeff Pearlman): Meticulously researched account of Payton’s life.
- An Accidental Sportswriter (Robert Lipsyte): Part biography, part polemic.
- Bottom of the 33rd (Dan Barry): Snapshot of the most famous minor-league game ever.
- West By West (Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman): Brutal catharsis from NBA legend.
- The John Carlos Story (John Carlos and Dave Zirin): The conscience of sports.
- Swing Your Sword (Mike Leach and Bruce Feldman): How is Leach not coaching yet?
- The Whore of Akron (Scott Raab): The most polarizing sports book of the year.
- Through My Eyes (Tim Tebow and Nathan Whitaker): Come on -- it’s Tebow.
- When the Garden Was Eden (Harvey Araton): Way too many trusted folks said it should be here.
To read the entire story: Click here
Bottom of the 33rd nominated for The Casey Award by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine
Dec 3, 2011 - The editors of Spitball are pleased to announce that the Finalists for the 2011 CASEY Award have been posted on the CASEY Award page of their website. The 10 Finalists represent another outstanding field of great baseball books, as well as a daunting challenge for the Judges who must select the winner. Thanks to all who made Nominations for the 2011 CASEY.
This year's Judges are: Cincinnati attorney and player agent Jim Crowley; noted baseball writer and author Wayne Stewart of Lorain, OH; and the PA voice of the Chillicothe Paints since the inception of the team, John Wend of Greenfield, OH.
See all of the 2011 Casey Award nominees: Click here
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council holds 26th annual awards
Sep 23, 2011 - By Donna Kenny Kirwan.
A record number of people came out to the Twin River Event Center on Thursday night to honor the author of a book on a record-setting baseball game, a Central Falls native who heads up the prestigious Wal-Mart Foundation and other special guests at the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council's 26th Annual Awards Dinner.
“This is the largest crowd we've gathered in 26 years,” stated an exuberant Bob Billington, president of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, of the 250 in attendance. He noted the continued importance of the tourism industry to the state's economy and how much the rich and storied history of the Blackstone Valley contributes to those dollars. Mark Brodeur, executive director of the Rhode Island Tourism Division, also voiced his support for what the communities comprising the Blackstone Valley have to offer to visitors from near and far. “You're not Disneyland here. You're authentic. You're wonderful!” he stated, to applause.
David Balfour, of Balfour Associates and chairman of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council's board of directors, said in his opening remarks that the region “has more to offer than any area in the entire world with what we have here.” Barry Mechanic, publisher of The Times, The Call and Neighbors, as well as vice chairman of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council's board of directors, echoed Balfour's sentiments about the local area and added that the money invested in tourism “comes back to the community” and benefits businesses throughout the state.
At this year's awards ceremony, the BVTC chose journalist Dan Barry, author of Bottom of the 33rd, to receive the Blackstone Valley Excellence in the Arts Award. Barry, a former Providence Journal reporter who is now a columnist with the New York Times, recounted professional baseball's historic longest game, which was played by the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1981 at McCoy Stadium.
To read the entire story: Click here
An excerpt from Commonweal Magazine
Jun 17, 2011 - By Patrick Jordan.
I grew up hearing Jim Murray, the inimitable Los Angeles Times sports columnist, being read aloud by my father at the breakfast table. On principle, my dad intensely disliked sports writers. He had a long memory and, as vice president and business manager for a Triple A baseball franchise in the 1930s, had found them to be a bunch of freeloaders. Not only did he have to negotiate players' salaries, keep the lights on at the ballpark, and oversee the grounds crew; he had to make sure these self-absorbed dandies were supplied with free drink and food-in that order-lest they turn against the Angels (his team).
But Jim Murray was in an altogether different league from those scribes. Arriving at the Times after my dad's former team had been forced to leave town by Walter O'Malley's interloping Brooklyn Dodgers in 1958, Murray's column ran on the front page of the sports section, top-left, his Irish countenance radiating from a line drawing that emphasized his wavy hair and heavy horned-rimmed glasses. What my father liked about Murray were his cadences and how he could pile on the similes, like a counter man at Katz's (or, in Los Angeles, Philippe's) layering on the brisket, one precisely shaven tier atop the next until your breath was taken away. Even before my dad would cut into the sausage and apply Tabasco sauce to his eggs, those Murray similes would multiply and sizzle-the words commingling over the food like a blessing.
This nation has not been bereft of superlative sports writers, from Ring Lard-ner and Heywood Broun to Red Smith, Roger Angell, and Frank Deford. By assignment, Dan Barry is not a sports writer, but neither were John Updike, Norman Mailer, or David Halberstam- all of whom wrote unforgettable pieces about athletes, their achievements and defeats. Dan Barry does likewise in his recounting of the longest game in professional baseball history.
To read the entire story: Click here
The New York Times: Baseball According to Beckett: A Game That Wouldn’t End
April 24, 2011 - By Stefan Fatsis.
In April 1981, in a dumpy stadium in blue-collar Pawtucket, R.I., two minor-league baseball teams played one of the strangest games in history: 32 unbroken innings beginning in twilight on Holy Saturday and pausing, more than eight hours later, near dawn on Easter Sunday. The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings were tied 2-2 when the umpires were finally ordered to set aside the rule book — which, because of a preseason clerical error, omitted the usual curfew — and suspend play until a later date.
By then only 19 fans remained in frigid McCoy Stadium, along with players, coaches and staff; two reporters; one scorer; and two broadcasters sending play-by-play after play-by-play to a few sleepless listeners in upstate New York. “We’ll hear birds chirping anytime now,” one of them said. A Pawtucket player lay down with his head on third base as if it were a pillow. It was baseball by Beckett, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” with minor-league ballplayers instead of marathon dancers.
Professional baseball’s longest game confounded time, history and, most of all, common sense, and yielded the sort of signature oddity submitted as evidence of the sport’s charm. (Baseball has no clock!) But in an era when drug revelations and statistical reformulations have left fans wary of proclamations of pastoral innocence, baseball sentiment is rough terrain. Myth and Romance sit at the end of the bench, near the water cooler, replaced in the lineup by VORP (value over replacement player) and H.G.H. (human growth hormone).
To read the entire story: Click here
NPR: Weekend Edition
April 24, 2011
This Sunday on Weekend Edition, Liane Hansen talks to Dan Barry, author of the new book Bottom Of The 33rd: Hope, Redemption And Baseball's Longest Game. The book is all about a minor-league game that took place — or, rather, began — on April 18, 1981. It was suspended after 32 innings, tied at 2-2, at four in the morning on April 19, Easter Sunday. It resumed two months later, when the Pawtucket Red Sox finally beat the Rochester Red Wings 3-2 in the bottom of the 33rd inning.
The game, he notes, is only more compelling as a story because minor league baseball doesn't carry the assumption that a major league game does that everyone involved has already, in a sense, "made it." Barry says that there's "an undercurrent of aspiration" and "a touch of the tragic" in a league in which many of the players will, in fact, never become the successes they dream of being. But because they won't, he says, "we learn at a minor league game that it is the journey to cherish, not necessarily the conclusion."
To hear the entire interview: Click here
CBS Evening News: Baseball's longest game, 30 years later
April 18, 2011 - By Steve Hartman.
Thirty years ago tonight, baseball history was made in Pawtucket, R.I., in front of a crowd of almost nobody.
Bob Brek recalls being "the only fan on the first base side, at the end of the game."
By comparison, the third base side was packed, according to Gary Levin. "There were about 5 to 8 actual fans here."
Of course, it didn't start out that way. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports earlier that evening, 1,740 people had shown up to watch a minor league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. Most of the fans, we can only assume, had every intention of staying until the end of the game.
To read the entire story: Click here
Dan Barry on MSNBC's Morning Joe program
From April 6, 2011 - Dan Barry discusses the release of his new book with a very enthusiastic panel on MSNBC's Morning Joe program.
Colin McEnroe Show: Baseball's Longest Game Ever
April 13, 2011 - By Colin McEnroe
Colin McEnroe is an American columnist and radio personality. He currently hosts The Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio, writes for The Hartford Courant, and hosts a blog, ToWit, on the Courant's website.
"There's something about the slow unfolding of the game that mirrors Shakespeare's history plays and the work of the Greek tragedians. Is it a coincidence that the great yearly festival of Greek tragedies was held in late March/early April, which roughly coincides with the start of our baseball crop cycle?
Dan Barry has written a wrenching, entertaining book summing up the exhilaration and heartbreak of baseball in one 33-inning game in Pawtucket, R.I. Reading the book it was hard not to think about a game like it. In 1959 Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings for the Pirates against the Braves. The Braves were a murderer's row and were stealing signs, so they knew every pitch Haddix would throw. 12 perfect innings. Possibly the best performance ever by a major league pitcher. His team lost the game."
To hear the entire interview: Click here
Associated Press review of Bottom of the 33rd
April 11, 2011 - By Monica Rhor
Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game (Harper)
by Dan Barry
"As any disciple of baseball knows, the sport is much more than a game, much more than nine men tossing a ball on an emerald diamond. It is a connection to the divine, a celebration of hometown heroes, a ballad of loss and longing and love. Life encapsulated.
In Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game, Dan Barry, the gifted New York Times national columnist, has crafted a meticulously reported, finely embroidered account of the infamous minor league face-off between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings.
But Barry does more than simply recount the inning-by-inning-by-inning box score. He delves beneath the surface, like an archaeologist piecing together the shards and fragments of a forgotten society, to reconstruct a time and a night that have become part of baseball lore.
Every waft of the ball, every thwack of leather against ash, every inning swallowed by the night is somehow linked to every pitch, and swing, and long fly ball that came before, in every ball park in every small town and big city across America..."
Read the entire AP review: Click here
Dan Barry on NPR's Only A Game with Bill Littlefield
April 9, 2011 - An award-winning weekly sports magazine hosted by veteran NPR commentator Bill Littlefield, Only A Game is radio for the serious sports fan and the steadfast sports avoider. Produced by WBUR in Boston, Only A Game puts sports in perspective with intelligent analysis, insightful interviews, and a keen sense of humor. For entire interview: Click here
"Dan Barry’s account bravely aspires to be more than the story of an exceptionally long ballgame, and it succeeds. And of course the great thing about Bottom of the 33rd is that you can relive the adventure of that weird game in some warm, well-lighted place."
CBS Sunday Morning: Lessons from baseball's longest game
From April 25, 2011 - Steve Hartman's story for CBS Sunday Morning.