Literature Program

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.


Talking Leaves…Books & Hallwalls present

Jim Kaplan

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, & the Pitching Duel of the Century

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched A Reading & Book Signing

Even before their epic pitching duel, Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn already had a lot in common. Future Hall of Famers with high-kicking deliveries, they were shaped into winners by character-building experiences in the military. Spahn had been baseball's winningest pitcher in the 1950s, and Marichal would be equally dominant in the 1960s.

Author Jim Kaplan—who covered baseball for Sports Illustrated in the 1970s and 1980s—initially planned to expand a magazine story he'd written about the game into book form, but researching the principals in travels from San Francisco to South Buffalo to Santo Domingo led to a fascination with their personal histories. Spahn was one of the most decorated ballplayers to fight in World War II; Marichal narrowly escaped death three times. Despite their obvious differences—Spahn, the American southpaw, and Marichal, the Dominican righty—Kaplan found extraordinary similarities between the friendly rivals. As a result, The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, & the Pitching Duel of the Century is a dual biography with an unforgettable game woven through it, and a baseball gem in its own right.

Juan's and Spahn's incredible performances on July 2, 1963, would forever link their names together in baseball history. The Braves' Spahn and the Giants' Marichal began their duel at 8:21 PM in San Francisco's cold and windy Candlestick Park. Four hours later, at 12:30 AM the two pitching legends were deadlocked in a scoreless tie when Willie Mays, with one out and no one on, hit a walk-off home run to end the greatest game ever pitched. In between, Juan and Spahn each threw more than 200 pitches and went 16 innings without relief. Considering today's culture of pitch counts and coddled arms, it was a night we won't see repeated ever again.

In The Greatest Game Ever Pitched, author Jim Kaplan weaves the 1963 contest in a book that is sure to be a home run with baseball fans everywhere.

Jim Kaplan is the author of 19 books, including 13 on baseball. Called the "poet laureate" of fielding by George Will, Kaplan has written two books on the subject, as well as histories of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Giants, an appreciation of Casey Stengel (with Ira Berkow), and a biography of Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Grove. Kaplan graduated from Yale with a B.A. in history and earned a Master's from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. After three years of covering sports for the Minneapolis Star, he spent 16 years at Sports Illustrated, then turned to freelance writing. Also a bridge columnist and teacher, Kaplan divides his time between Northampton and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, with his wife, poet and journalist Brooks Robards.