Swinging '73, Baseball's Wildest Season: A Book Review

Eric Brach@EBrachWritesCorrespondent IApril 8, 2013

The introduction of George Steinbrenner. The swan song of Willie Mays. Pete Rose’s last of three batting titles. The first of Rod Carew’s three hit crowns. Reggie Jackson’s MVP for the Oakland A’s.  Tom Seaver’s Cy Young for the New York Mets. A Mets vs. A’s World Series that went to seven games. And oh yes—the adoption of the designated hitter.

The 1973 baseball season had it all. And the 1973 season is the subject of author Matt Silverman’s new book, Swinging ’73.

Swinging ’73, released last week by Lyons Press, chronicles the ups and downs, the ins and outs of one of pro baseball’s most exciting years ever, and it does it in casual, breezy style. Readers of Swinging ’73 will learn about how the NL East race went down to the wire, with the division champion Mets winning the regular season title with the fewest wins of any champ in the 162-game season era: 82. That pennant race was also special in that it was the closest race of all time with the most parity. The second-place Cardinals finished with 81 wins. The third-place Pirates? 80. The fourth-place Expos? 79. Even the fifth-place Cubs finished just five games back of the division champs.

But it wasn’t just the NL East that saw action—oh, no. While the Mets were winning, across town, the New York Yankees found themselves mired in the midst of the single longest losing streak that franchise had ever known, a drought of over a decade. Their team couldn’t manage to make the papers for their play on the field, but they had no trouble getting ink for the way their players played the field: early in the year, two Yankees pitchers swapped wives—for spice, and then for keeps—trading along with them their families and homes as well.

It went down in baseball history as the single most bizarre trade of all time. And it’s detailed, in all its glory, in this text.

Swinging ’73 comes highly recommended to all baseball fans. Mets and A’s fans looking to recapture the glory days of those franchises will particularly enjoy leafing through its pages, but anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in the annals of baseball lore will find Swinging ’73 to be the perfect kind of read: a fastball right down the plate.