Baker, Jim and Bernard M. Corbett. The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History: the Oral History of a Legendary Team. Bloomsbury, USA, 2012.
I think I was rubbed the wrong way by this book immediately. In the introduction there is an assumption about the reader (and ultimately of the New England Patriot fan); that their involvement with football is “from the comfort of your couch” (p vii). How do you know your reader hasn’t shelled out thousands of dollars to be season ticket holders? How do you know your reader isn’t some lowly ball boy or towel warmer who, for the love of the game, is on the sidelines come snow, sleet or hail every Sunday, a random Monday and sometimes Thursday? Maybe the owner of the New England Patriots is reading your words?
The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History starts at the very beginning, September 9th, 1960 with the Boston Patriots. There is an astonishing overabundance of far reaching detail not necessarily related to the New England Patriots; so much information it would take a lifetime to confirm it all if you had to. I found that the appendices in the middle of each chapter were, more often than not, irrelevant to the title of the book. In fact, a bulk of The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History had nothing to do with the most memorable games in Patriots history. A chapter could be called “Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Divisional Playoffs January 5, 1997” but contain a section called “the 1996 Giants.” Approximately two thirds of the narrative is dedicated to setting the stage with approximately 150 pages dedicated to each game. Throughout the book you will find information on the most years without a home playoff victory (any team), the history of the tiebreaker game (any team), a history of other Boston-area sports inaugurals (Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, even the Boston Marathon), a bio on Jim Nance, single score games since 1943 (any team)…I could go on. All of this information is interesting. I just wish it had been organized in the book better.
My favorite parts of the book were the detailed play by plays of what happened on the field during each of the most memorable games…when they finally got around to talking about them. It was especially exciting if it happened to be a game I attended. I could relive the game through the players own words. However, Baker and Corbett take a long time to set the stage. This is not for the casual football fan.