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Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,619 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Smithsonian (first published March 1st 2007)
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Mar 13, 2011 Tung rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Crazy '08 is a nonfiction account of the 1908 baseball season where three teams vie for the NL pennant up until the very last game of the season. The book focuses on the Cubs (and their Hall of Fame crew of Tinker, Evers, Chance and "Three Finger" Brown) and the (then) New York Giants (led by the immortal Christy Matthewson and infamous John McGraw), and recounts the ebbs and flows of their records over the entire season before ending in the much-noted last World Series championship for the long ...more
Mar 19, 2009 MacK rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such is my affinity for baseball, and baseball history, that on seeing this book in a Barnes and Noble the subtitle alone was almost enough to make me buy two copies.

Murphy's affection for the woebegone Chicago Cubs makes this chronicle of their last championship season a wistful reminiscence more than taut mystery. None the less, she does a marvelous job fleshing out the faded box scores into more than mere numbers on a page. The old names and sepia images of Ken Burns' documentary or your gran
Troy Soos
Dec 22, 2008 Troy Soos rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
Although the 1908 baseball season was memorable, this book is not. Cait Murphy did an admirable job of research, but her writing is uneven and she indulges in some odd digressions that repeatedly halt the narrative (e.g., she gives us seven pages about serial killer Belle Gunness and eight pages on anarchism).
Jan 05, 2017 Scott rated it it was amazing
It's funny. I read this book awhile ago, but it somehow never made it on to my Goodreads list. Every now and then, some random part would come to mind, and I would think "oh, that's right - this is one of the books I forgot to put on my list. I should add it one of these days." One day, I finally remembered while I was logged on, and viola, added.

Fast forward to November 2016. The Cubs win the World Series, and this of course this makes me (and everyone else) think of 1908. I remembered this bo
Patrick Abdalla
Feb 03, 2017 Patrick Abdalla rated it it was amazing
As a baseball fan and a writer, I have to say this is one of the best books on the sport ever written. Murphy's wit shines through as she takes you through a season that center's on some of the game's biggest legends and forgotten stars.
Steven Peterson
Oct 03, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
Cait Murphy observes that 1908 is an important season in the history of baseball in America. She closes the book with the statement (page 288): "In the sweep of baseball's history, 1908 is not the end of an era, nor the beginning of one. It is, however, the end of the beginning." She starts the work by answering why she explores 1908 (page xiii): "The best season in baseball history is 1908. Besides two agonizing pennant races, it features history's finest pitching duel, hurled in the white heat ...more
Aug 02, 2010 bup rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, 2011
Her title calls it "The Greatest Season in Baseball History," and she makes an excellent case for it. And she's done her homework - the vast, broad research that informs her narrative is really impressive. From a serial killer in Indiana to anarchist terrorism to race riots in Springfield, IL, to the presidential race, she provides context that makes the whole thing more understandable. Oh, she also seems to have read, and references, about 3,487 baseball books, and read every document at the Na ...more
Watching Ken Burn's Baseball series has rekindled my love for this great game. I have always been a huge fan of the dead-ball era and (along with my home state, MN Twins) have been a Cubs fan since I was 10. Crazy 08 captures the last season the Cubs won the world series, 1908. The book seemed like it would be a perfect fit.

I only finished this because of the era and the colorful nature of the players themselves. The book is thoroughly researched and the author made sure that she stuck every fac
From a standpoint of telling the stranger-than-fiction story of one of the oddest and most remarkable seasons in the history of God's Game, this is a fine book, and that's why I'm getting it for my son-in-law the Cubs fan (shhh, don't tell!) for his birthday.

On the other hand, Murphy's editor did her no favors by failing to restrain her impulse to stretch every routine rhetorical single into a two-sacker (as she would be inclined to put it, except that she'd probably strain for something even mo
Jun 15, 2011 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all baseball fans
A very entertaining book about baseball. Mostly set in 1908, the last year the Chicago Cubs won The World Series. The author includes many interesting stories about other teams; although it is mostly about the rivarly between the Cubs and the New York Giants.

I checked the book out of the library expecting it to be just about the Cubs, but it is so much more. I learned about the "Merkle game", Tinkers to Evers to Chance, how gambling has always seemed to be connected with sports and many fascinat
Jan 11, 2009 Brian rated it it was amazing
This was, hands down, the very best baseball book I have ever read! Intermingled with some of the history of the very early 20th Century, and containing an epilogue describing life after the 1908 baseball season for a great number of the people in this book, it was exactly the kind of book I most enjoy reading and the essence of the book I wish I could write myself. If you are in any way interested in baseball history, this is a "must read."
Ken Heard
Oct 25, 2007 Ken Heard rated it really liked it
Murphy argues that 1908 is the best baseball season ever, what with close pennant races in both divisions, Merkle's bonehead play against the Cubs and the subsequent makeup game that decides the National League pennant, the very beginning of structured salaries for players, the hint of gambling and the bizarre nature of the times. Interesting perspective with loads of other sources for further reading.
Mar 20, 2008 Leonora rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, unfinished
I can't deal with the overwrought writing style in this book, maybe I will revisit it another time.
Mar 20, 2017 Dave rated it really liked it
As a writer, Cait Murphy's a hell of an editor. But as a researcher, she puts a lot of writers to shame. This book reads like a compilation of research, really, and she put in her time, for sure.

The story took me a place and time I hadn't much considered, and made parallels between a raucous, epic baseball season and society at large. You see the seeds of the Black Sox scandal planted and starting to bloom, you see organized labor infiltrating the heretofore insulated world of professional sport
Steven Belanger
May 14, 2014 Steven Belanger rated it it was amazing
I've been a little crazy myself, in the last year or so, amassing a collection of 1908-1911 T206s from various sources, and displaying them in my office. 'cuz I'm awesome and exciting like that. From behind SGC- or PSA-graded cases peer the faces of Jack Pfeister, Hooks Wiltse, Red Ames, Dave Brain, Red Murray, Solly Hofman, Clark Griffith, Dots Miller, Fielder Jones, Chief Meyers, Laughin' Larry Doyle, Lee Tannehill, Harry Steinfeldt, Wild Bill Donovan, Nap Rucker, Doc Crandall, Wee Willie Keel ...more
Harley Bennett
Oct 24, 2016 Harley Bennett rated it it was amazing
Crazy '08 tells the story of the National League pennant race between the Cubs, Giants and Pirates in 1908. That was the last time the Cubs won the World Series. (Of course, that could change in the next ten days.) This is an interesting book, and I recommend it for anyone interested in baseball, especially baseball history.
Apr 12, 2008 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
The book has a long sub-title, How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History. Long sub-titles tend to stretch a point, sometimes wittily (Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), sometimes not. This one strains to suggest more madcap fun than it delivers and its glib tone can’t gracefully or convincingly manage the shifting from the high sunshine of major league’s coming of age with its numerous dark shadows. The ...more
Jan 10, 2017 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, sports
Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, by Cait Murphy, 2007. This is a good book, a fun read. The summer of 1908 featured one of the great pennant races of all time in the National League, and a humdinger in the American League as well. While I remember liking G. H. Fleming’s The Unforgettable Season even more, which was told through the daily sports news articles of the day, what I like about Crazy ’08 are the direct quote ...more
Feb 15, 2009 Kristina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: baseball fans, history buffs
Recommended to Kristina by: Smelly
Now that I'm finished watching Ken Burns "Baseball" documentary, time to start over again from the beginning :)

"Crazy '08" is, primarily, the story of the ridiculously close, eventful and controversial pennant race between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants. Murphy seems like she's trying to build up an atmosphere of suspense (OMG what's going to happen??!?!?) but even a casual baseball fan knows that 1908 was the last time the Cubs won the World Series...because this is why we both mock a
Apr 03, 2013 Randal rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Chicago Cubs fans ... they'll know why
Shelves: nonfiction, baseball
If this book was a baseball player, it would be ...
A lefthanded middle reliever.
It fills a niche, but it's a little flaky, it's not consistent enough to start, nor capable of pitching the second or third time through the order.

Look, I could nitpick about the typos (from naming the wrong team at one point to busted phonemes) or about the historical details that are wrong (to make a point, the author talks about how rare college players were back then, then continually mentions what college so-and
Apr 09, 2007 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
A fun, rollicking narration of 1908, a year that Ms. Murphy claims is the "Greatest Year in Baseball." Whether that is true or not (the utterly anticlimactic Wold Series (Chicago beat Detroit 4-1, the first two games being shut-outs undermines that claim a bit), the year certainly was dramatic in the NL, and filled with mazing characters. 1908 is far enough back that only a few of the players are house-hold names (Wagner,, Cobb, Young), but modern enough that the game is the game we all know and ...more
Zach Koenig
Aug 25, 2014 Zach Koenig rated it it was amazing
The obvious way to review this book would be to discuss how it chronicles the differences between 1908 and 2008 major league baseball, including the irony of the Chicago Cubs being considered the dominant, clutch team of the entire National League (!). It does that job quite admirably, as Cait Murphy's casual writing style makes you feel as if you are actually experiencing the events she is describing (pretty much covering the important events of the '08 season).

Yet, what I found to be the reall
Henry Sturcke
Oct 03, 2013 Henry Sturcke rated it it was amazing
If 1908 truly was the greatest baseball season, as author Cait Murphy claims, then she has written a book in every way its equal. Well-honed prose that combines modern turns of phrase with archaic slang from the time it depicts, it sometimes trips on this richness, but overall, it's a pleasurable read. This is no small feat, given the breadth of her coverage. If occasionally some details become confused (Connie Mack's A's are twice referred to as the Phillies, and the Naps were behind 3-1 in the ...more
Feb 01, 2008 Kirstin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2007
I’m pleased to say that I loved this book. Cait Murphy stands in admirably for a broadcasting team for the history of the game providing both play-by-play and color commentary. She is precisely the sort of person you’d love to talk baseball with over a cold one at a dull party. A keen observer of the game, she offers this bon mot in the fifth chapter: “New Yorkers love a winner, and can be oddly affectionate to losers — but they cannot stand mediocrity.”

I loved the trivia and the background and
James Peavler
Oct 29, 2012 James Peavler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I love baseball -- just ask anyone who knows me. Love it, follow it obsessively, have season tickets to the San Francisco Giants. Usually, I love books about baseball, or have anything what so ever to do with baseball. This one seemed to miss the mark for me though. It is the story of the first truly extraordinary season in baseball history, where races came down to the wire and controversy seemingly abounded in the course of each and every game. It was the year of the "Merkle Boner" and the las ...more
Sep 03, 2012 TJ rated it really liked it
"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-break ...more
Michael Beyer
May 09, 2014 Michael Beyer rated it it was amazing
Being a baseball fan, I was pre-disposed to like this book, but I have to admit I never expected such a rich and wonderful tapestry of not only the game I love, but the time in which it was establishing itself as a truly national pastime. As a Cardinal fan I love to berate the Cubs and see the Cardinals give them a good old-fashioned walloping. But this book tells the tale of time when the situation was completely reversed. Tinker, to Evers, to Chance... double play! The Cubs had baseball's firs ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Kevin rated it liked it
According to the author, 1908 was the best year in the history of professional baseball both in terms of excitement and its importance in determining the future of the sport. The American League was making a serious push to jeopardize the near monopoly that the National League held for decades, players were working to gain more power against owners, teams were discovering that there was money to be made through cleaning up the sport and marketing it to women and families, top brass realized ther ...more
Barbara Gregorich
Jul 28, 2014 Barbara Gregorich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Baseball in 1908 is brought to life in this wonderful book. The author concentrates mostly on the National League pennant race, a three-way affair between the Giants, the Pirates, and the powerhouse Cubs (hard to believe, isn't it?). The players and playing are brought to life, as are the fans/bugs/cranks: those baseball fanatics who storm the field, threaten the players, and think nothing of bribing players to lose or umps to make wrong calls.

The writing is wonderful, and the author's sense of
Joe Santoro
Oct 03, 2015 Joe Santoro rated it liked it
Shelves: real_history, sports
This was a very well written book, but it's not really about the 1908 baseball season, as it claims. Sure, it talks about the Cubs/Giants rivalry for that year, but really almost nothing else... the American League isn't mentioned until 2/3 into the book, then only in passing. The Pirates, who were also in the NL race the whole year, are only talked about in the background other than Honus Wagner. And even he is simply praised alot, not really talked about at all.

The only references to the AL-w
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Cait Murphy is an editor and writer in New York, New York.
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