Shadows of Glory: Memorable and Offbeat World Series Stories

Image of Shadows of Glory
Release Date: 
April 2, 2024
Lyons Press
Reviewed by: 

The opening of the Major League Baseball season is an affirmation of the end of winter and is marked by the optimism of baseball fans. It is a ritual of spring. It is also the occasion for the publication of a small library full of new baseball books. There are histories, biographies, statistical analyses, prognostications for the coming season, and anthologies. Baseball is an ideal literary sport because it thrives not just on competition but on its stories and storytellers, and it moves smoothly across generations. 

Shadows of Glory is one of this year’s additions to the baseball library. It is a collection of 18 essays on the same number of World Series, chosen for their remarkable or unusual circumstances. Some of these are well-known, while others have faded into the past. Some are stories that have been obscured by more memorable moments from the same World Series. Each essay has considerable context, tracing the road of the teams or individuals to the October spotlight.

Dave Brown and Jeff Rodimer have made their choices and placed them into four categories: The first features Owners, Umpires and Commissioners; the second spotlights unlikely heroes of a World Series; the third takes the focus off the field; and the fourth section is titled “Heartbreak and Triumph.”

As with any such collection, baseball fans will question the choices and lament the omissions. For example, why is there nothing on the 1991 World Series, considered by many to be the best World Series of all-time, featuring two teams than went from last place in 1990 to the World Series in 1991? So be it. Choices have to be made and Brown and Rodimer made theirs.

In the first section two of the essays stand out from the others. The first one is on the 1973 World Series between the Oakland A’s and the New York Mets and is now remembered more for what happened off the field than on. The A’s owner Charlie O. Finley made headlines by trying to remove his second-baseman, Mike Andrews, from the A’s roster. Finley’s battle with the Commissioner is detailed, and the reaction of Mets fans to Andrews is certainly unusual and memorable.

Some of the best writing in the entire collection deals with Game Seven of the 1925 World Series. The game was played on a rain drenched field with poor footing and limited visibility. It was a game that should not have been played. It was loaded with a bundle of memorable moments involving the Commissioner, an owner, and a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Section Two is highlighted by an essay on the New York Yankees of the 1970s leading to the 1978 World Series. It offers more drama than anyone could ask for from the cast featuring George Steinbrenner, Reggie Jackson, and Billy Martin. The focal point of this essay is on the 1978 Yankees and an obscure player who became the hitting star in the 78 Series against the Dodgers. Other unlikely World Series heroes featured in this section are David Freeze in 2011, Dusty Rhodes in 1954, and Howard Ehmke in 1929.

Section three features unusual or offbeat stories. Among these are pitchers, Cliff Lee of the Phillies in 2009 and Tom Browning of Cincinnati in the 1990 Series.

Clearly nearing the end of his career in 2009, Lee pitched in Game One against the Yankees doing something that had not been done before in a World Series game. In addition, he did so after nearly missing the game when his taxi to Yankee Stadium got stuck in traffic. Lee had to abandon the cab, find the subway, and navigate his way to the stadium arriving just before gametime.

Tom Browning made the headlines in Game Two in 1990 when he disappeared from the ballpark. Late in the game when Cincinnati manager Lou Pinella sent word for Browning to go to the bullpen, Browning was gone, and no one knew where he was.

Section four has four remarkable stories with the most interesting being an unfortunate misplay in the 1968 World Series. In Game Seven, the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Detroit Tigers with Bob Gibson on the mound for the Cardinals. A misplay by Cardinal centerfielder Curt Flood led to the Cardinal loss. The ramifications that followed for Flood and for Major League Baseball are detailed in this essay.

The other three essays deal with the 2016 Cubs’ victory ending the Cubs’ championship drought; the ending of Game Seven in 1960 and Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry’s redemption in 1962; the fourth essay details what should have been the first no-hitter in World Series history. It occurred in Game Four of the ’47 Series with Bill Bevins pitching for the Yankees.

The only shortcoming of Shadows of Glory is the uneven quality of the writing. Some essays lack focus, and the prose is not up to the storyline. In baseball terminology, this collection could be described as having “warning track power.” Nonetheless, it is worthy of the attention of any baseball fan.