Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry

Bottom of the 33rd book cover Best Baseball Book I Have Ever Read – 5 Stars

I am writing this review about 9 months after having read this. I have been putting off writing this review as I have been finding it difficult to express my feelings on the subject. For me, the game of baseball holds a special place in my heart. Whenever I have a chance to sit down and watch a game, it brings back feelings that I have had since childhood. Feelings of excitement, anticipation, potential and awe. My first heroes (that were not within my own family) were all out on the baseball diamond and graced the faces of my baseball card collection. Maybe Kelly Gruber is no one to you, but the former third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays was my hero! For me, this story distills these feelings and infuses them into the real life people in this real life story.

In short, the book tells the story of the longest baseball game played. It was a 33 inning affair that occurred between two minor league baseball teams. The game was filled with players who would go on to successful careers and players who would go on to non baseball related jobs. The author does a superb job of detailing the game itself while at the same time providing insight and back story into the players playing the game and various persons connected with the game and in the stands.

If you thought that authors such as Patrick Rothfuss and Anthony Ryan were skilled at detailing the creation of myth over thousands of pages, than you will be amazed at the authors ability to create legend within a mere 257 pages. The book also serves a case study in myth making. He takes a game that is a footnote to history and an unimportant game in the career of future hall of famers, Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs but by adding the emotion of the game, the history of the players and a wide array of other stories, he has created something bigger than the sum of its parts.

This is my best effort at reviewing what may be the best piece of non-fiction I have ever read. My reaction to the book was quite emotional. It may hold interest to a passive fan but it will be absorbed and understood by everyone who knows that baseball is more than just a game.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for baseballbabble.com. Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.

2 Comments

  1. January 5, 2015
    Reply

    Wow Tim! I am so impressed with this review and will be reading this book immediately. (Well as soon as I finish 11-22-63, I know. It’s pathetic but I have just had total upheaval in my life since October and almost zero reading time. I’m still only 20% in but enjoying it when I can.).

    I’m a baseball but. I’ve been watching Cubs games on WGN since I can remember and by watching…I mean there were years I never missed a televised one. And even in an off year I watch probably no less than 90. Last year I got the pass and watched almost every one either at home or on my iPad.

    I shared your review with my brothers at chicagocubsonline.com. I’ve been reading this site for almost 10 years and participating on the discussion boards heavily for over half that time. It idea use discus to post comments so In some way you’re related.

    A lot of folks there know me as Theboardrider and while some think I’m an overly optimistic look. I’d like to think they realize I’m a passionate baseball fan and know quite a bit about the game. When you said the line about people may bit know who Kelly Gruber is. My reaction was “who doesn’t know who Kelly Gruber is!?” But you’re probably right.

    Being from OKC, I bet we have at least one common hero. Mr. Joe Carter!

  2. Tim
    January 5, 2015
    Reply

    Let me know when you finish 11/22/63! I will be interested in your thoughts.

    Thanks for the share. Cubs fans and Jays fans are alike in that we always believe that next year is our year! Of course, Jays fans only have to look back to 92 and 93 for a World Series ring…..

    Who cannot love Joe Carter. His exultant game winning home run trot is an iconic baseball moment!

    I definitely recommend this to any passionate baseball fan. It has appeal regardless of what baseball jersey you have hanging in your closet. I would also highly recommend The Bullpen Diaries by Dirk Hayhurst. It is an excellent look at the game of baseball though the eyes of a minor leaguer and it is funny to boot! Very well written non fiction as well.

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