KOMET's Reviews > The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball

The Old Ball Game by Frank Deford
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's review
Apr 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history-baseball, zz-out-of-residence
Read in May, 2012

As a baseball fan who has had virtually a lifelong love of the game and its history, this was an enjoyable book to read. Both John McGraw, the pugnacious manager of the New York Giants and one of baseball's great minds of the early 20th century, and Christy ("Matty") Mathewson, the great pitcher and moral paragon among players, helped to lift up the stature of the game and broaden its national appeal. (In the process, baseball became the national pastime til football supplanted its claim to the title in the 1960s.)

The book also is a dual biography, informing the reader about the lives of both McGraw and Mathewson. Both men, given their disparate backgrounds and temperaments, could not be more different. Yet when they both became part of the New York Giants, they worked very well together. In fact, McGraw, who could be a bit of a control freak in terms of how he managed his players, gave Mathewson considerable latitude in the games he pitched. "Matty" was free to pitch as he saw fit and became one of the most successful pitchers in major league history. Long before the New York Yankees became the pre-eminent team of the major leagues, it was the New York Giants who were one of the great powerhouse teams of baseball. They dominated the game between the early 1900s and the immediate post-First World War era.

Any person who loves a good human interest story or who loves baseball will enjoy this book. It's easy to read and is not at all taxing.

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