When you read the book, however, I’ll promise that every reader will find a game they’ve never heard of before. Maybe it’s the exhibition the Dodgers played in during World War II that featured three teams (Yankees, Dodgers and Giants) all playing against each other on one field in order to raise money for war bonds. Or what about the team’s first ever National League win in 1890?
For Hoornstra, it was all about providing perspective. “I wanted to find five or six games that people haven’t read about and put them side-by-side with games they’ve seen or heard about, because then you can really see the full spectrum of the franchise’s history.”
With all this talk of history, it’s no surprise that fans will find just three games from the past 10 seasons in the book — the Garciaparra walk-off mentioned above, the 2008 matchup with the Angels that the Dodgers won despite not recording a hit (No. 46), and Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter in 2014 (No. 28).
Even going back to 2000, there are only three other games that made the cut. Aside from talking about which games did make the cut, it’s almost just as interesting to hear about the ones that didn’t.
Take, for example, the time that Nolan Ryan no-hit the Dodgers to break the all-time no-hitter record. “That was the only game I thought for sure would make the cut that didn’t,” Hoornstra said.
“That was such a special moment in baseball history, where Koufax was almost passing the torch to Ryan, and so I thought it would make a compelling story, but the Dodgers didn’t even make it competitive.”
It should be noted the omission had nothing to do with the fact that the Dodgers lost — there are a few of those such games in the book — but more about the fact that the game itself simply wasn’t great. That, in a sense, is what makes this book — or even the idea of this book — so enjoyable.
Even the word “great” is so subjective that at the very least this book will provide every serious fan with a couple of games to complain about — which, to bring it full circle, is yet another part about what makes being a fan so enjoyable.
So, I guess I have to ask, what’s the greatest Dodger game you’ve ever seen?