Friday, September 28, 2007
A race to the finish line
More than 20 years ago, I stumbled on a book at the late, much-lamented Oxford Too bookstore in Atlanta: "Baseball's Pennant Races: A Graphic View," by John Warner Davenport. It contained, of all things, every major-league pennant race from 1901 to 1980 in graph form, which -- in that pre-Internet, pre-PC era -- Davenport had patiently assembled with graph paper and drafting tape, researching daily standings on microfilm. (Davenport also wrote nifty descriptions of each season.)

To this day, it's one of my most-loved baseball books (foolishly left off a list I once compiled because it's been long out of print). Davenport's rendering of the 1967 American League chase is more exciting than a shelf of Robert Ludlum novels.

I bring all this up because here it is, the final weekend of the 2007 regular season, and the National League is still anybody's guess. (Yes, this entry isn't really about entertainment in the Britney sense, but please grant me dispensation.) All you baseball fans out there know what I mean: It could be a wild weekend.

John Warner Davenport died in 1989, as a kind letter from his wife informed me many years ago, but his spirit lives on in a Web site by Alex Reisner, who's done the work and put it on the Web. And perhaps someday, someone will re-release Davenport's fine work.
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