“Down to the Last Pitch: How the 1991 Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves Gave Us the Best World Series of All Time” by Tim Wendel
Baseball, history, Twins, Braves
April 1, 2014
3 of 5 stars (okay)
The 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves is considered by many to be the greatest World Series of all time. Five of the seven games were decided by one run, four of them in extra innings won in walk-off fashion and all seven games were won by the home team. The Twins had the home field advantage and thus won the Series and I have been a lifetime Twins fan. So of course, this is going to be one of the best books I have ever read, correct? Well, this recap by Tim Wendel of not only that World Series but also much of the 1991 season fell a good deal short of expectations.
Given the title, I expected this book to be about that epic World Series, the two teams and some of the players. The format of seven chapters, one for each game, also sounded exciting as there would be a full description of each game and maybe some reflections on the action that took place. I was looking forward to hearing Mark Lemke and Brian Harper describe the thrilling play that won game four for the Braves in the 12th inning. Or maybe how Gene Larkin felt when he was hurting when stepping into the batter’s box in the 10th inning of game seven? Some of those types of stories and interviews were in the book, but they were placed between a lot of pages about players, teams and events that had nothing to do with the 1991 World Series.
There is more information about Ricky Henderson and Nolan Ryan in this book than there is about many of the Twins and Braves players. This is mainly because the author covered those two players and some other events of the 1991 season for a brand new publication, Baseball Weekly. While these are not bad stories (it’s always fun to read about Henderson, especially when he talks about himself in the third person), I was disappointed that these stories were placed right in the middle of chapters about the game and the flow of reading about the World Series games was lost.
This was even a problem with the passages in which Wendel DID write about the game. A brief story or bio of one of the key players of the game was placed right in the middle of the game description, again disrupting the flow of reading the book. I also thought that the format of some of the chapters made the result anti-climactic. Kirby Puckett’s game winning homer in the 11th inning of game six, or David Justice’s game winning run in game three in the 12th inning didn’t seem as thrilling reading about them after long passages about other topics.
At least the fact that both the Twins and Braves went from last place to first place in 1991 is prominently mentioned. This would be appropriate, since these other topics made the book feel more like it was about the entire season across Major League Baseball, not just this World Series.
Being a Twins fan, I certainly wanted to relive this Series and that kept me reading, No matter how it was constructed, nothing can make me NOT enjoy reading about or watching Larkin bloop that single into left field and drive home Dan Gladden to score the only run of game seven. But as a whole, the book, while decent in the parts that does recap the World Series, was a disappointment to me.
Pace of the book:
It was a fast moving book despite the sudden change in topics during the middle of several chapters.
Do I recommend?
Twins and Braves fans will enjoy the stories from this World Series, as will baseball fans who want to relive some of the highlights of the 1991 season. Just be prepared to read about a lot of other information not related to the two teams.
Book Format Read: