Monday, April 16, 2012

Book review - Perfect.

James Buckley Jr.'s Perfect was re-released in 2005 and covers the then 17 perfect games ever thrown in Major League Baseball. Of course there have been three more such games thrown since then but they occurred in 2009 and 2010 and so are not included in the book.

Mr. Buckley begins his book by discussing the nature and rarity of the perfect game. He rightly points out that, while the pitcher gets credit for the game, the entire team must be perfect as well. Every play, every bounce of the ball, every pitch must be perfect. The odds against such an occurrence are staggering. After reading the introduction I found myself amazed that Mr. Buckley had any subject matter at all.

Chapter one of the book covers Lee Richmond's perfect game from 1880. The phrase perfect game was not then in use but that's what Richmond threw. A brief lead-up to the game covers Richmond's life and career to that point. The game is then recounted. A brief follow-up covers the rest of Richmond's career and life and discusses the impact of the perfect game on him.

Each of the other 16 perfect games covered receives the same treatment as the first in their own chapters. When possible Mr. Buckley includes information from interviews with players or family members of players. The reactions and views on the games are as varied as the players themselves. For some of the pitchers their perfect game was a mile marker in a Hall 0f Fame career. For others it was the shining moment in an otherwise ordinary career. For all it was (and is) something very special.

After the account of Randy Johnson's 2004 perfect game Mr. Buckley spends a chapter on the most heartbreaking aspect of perfect games - those that weren't. The near misses are as varied as the ones that made it. Mr. Buckley does just as well bringing them to life as he does with the 17 perfect games he covers.

Even though Perfect misses the last three perfect games thrown in the Majors it is a must read for any baseball fan. Mr. Buckley writes well and his accounts never drag. His rendition of the players and games makes for a perfect read.

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