Sixty Feet, Six Inches was written by two of my favorite Hall of Fame baseball players along with writer Lonnie Wheeler. The title refers to the distance between the pitcher and home plate. In a lot of ways, this book took me back to 1971, when I first started following baseball day-to-day the summer I turned ten years old.
Gibson and Jackson are perfect choices to act as mouthpieces for pitchers and hitters from that era. Bob Gibson is the greatest pitcher in St. Louis Cardinal history, and considered by many to be the best “clutch” pitcher ever. He won a total of seven games spread over three World Series, and his record of 18 strikeouts in the first game of the 1968 World Series still stands today. I remember listening on an old clock radio when Gibson no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1971 season.
Reggie Jackson hit 563 home runs in his career, playing for the Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, and California Angels. ‘Mr. October’ played on five World Series champions during his career. In the 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit, he hit a monstrous home run that would have gone completely out of the stadium if it hadn’t hit a light tower.
A lot of this book revolves around Gibson and Jackson detailing their individual approaches to pitching and hitting. While it was sometimes a little dry due to the nuts and bolts nature of the discussion, there was still enough humor and insight to keep me from getting bored.
As a life-long Cardinal fan, I was already familiar with Gibson’s reputation as an intimidator and competitor. I’d heard him discuss his personal views on pitching inside during Cardinal radio broadcasts. What I read in this book only deepened my respect for him as a thinking-man’s pitcher with deep loyalty to his teammates.
Reggie Jackson was also a favorite player, when he changed teams, I became a fan of whatever team he joined. He was a controversial player through much of his career – he was often called a ‘hot dog’ and spoke his mind with the media. Regardless of what people said about him, he was a winner and like Gibson, always played his best in the most important games. In this book, I gained a lot of respect for his thought process and approach to the game.
Wheeler goes a great job of pulling everything together. I’ve read two of his other books: Bob Gibson’s autobiography A Stranger to the Game, and Hank Aaron’s autobiography I Had a Hammer. Both are excellent reads.
I recommend 60 Feet, 6 Inches to all baseball fans. I rated it 5-stars on Goodreads.