The story of that clash is one of baseball's blackest moments, with no winner anywhere, and Reston replays it in all of its grim, grisly detail. Rose, the accused, was, of course, banned from the game for life; Giamatti, the accuser, died of a heart attack just days after the banning. But Reston isn't satisfied to simply play out the endgame confrontation of the sinner and the standard bearer, and that's the brilliance of his book; he entwines their complex and fascinating biographies in a way that makes their collision seem tragically, almost surreally, inevitable. Each man was failed by his flaws, and it's the flaws that made each personality so compelling.
Still, it was their very failures of character that slapped each with a fate neither would have willingly chosen: Rose the unpenitent outcast, Giamatti the eternal martyr. The Rose case, writes Reston, "elevated (Giamatti) to heroic stature in America. By banishing a sport hero, he became a moral hero to the nation." The final irony is that the gregarious Giamatti, who indeed relished the role of moral hero, didn't live to experience his own apotheosis. --Jeff Silverman...Continua