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Let’s Go Read: Perfect Season Project

This fan project is a fun diversion

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A perfect season. It’s a dream.

One hundred and sixty-two wins is impossible. Well, not technically impossible, but if you trust the math on this Reddit thread, then there’s a 1.7105694 x 10-49 or 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000017105694% chance of it happening.

Those odds did not stop Alex Harnocz from compiling his version of a perfect Cleveland baseball season. The massive undertaking became his book, Perfect Season Project, a 162-game chronicle of some of the greatest wins in Cleveland history.

Of course, the project has rules, specifically there’s only one entry for each game from the modern era, one through 162, and the game has to be a Cleveland win. That means historic games that ended in a loss, such as Larry Doby’s debut in 1947, were not considered in order to protect the perfect record. Some hard decisions were surely made to accommodate the best of the best, and the amount of research and work that Harnocz put into the book is evident immediately. Each game, even those with spotty historical records, has at least one page of the book devoted to it, with details of the game and its significance in Cleveland history.

With that wealth of information, it could have been easy to create a book that was a slog to get through, but Harnocz uses an informal tone and includes autobiographical details where he could to keep the entries light and the pace quick. In fact, Perfect Season Project, being a piece of fan work, reads a lot like a long-form version of what we publish daily here on Let’s Go Tribe.

Like LGT work, readers may disagree with the choices Harnocz made, too. While some of the entries clearly have no parallel — such as perfect games from Addie Joss and Len Barker, Rocky Colavito’s four-home run game, the opening of Jacobs Field, the 2001 impossible comeback, or the 21-game win streak of 2017 — and were certainly easy choices. Other games might make you want to dig through the records to see if there was really no better win to go with (though if you actually start digging, you might quickly change your mind and respect Harnocz’s work even more). For instance, I found my eyes glazing over from practically any game between 1959 and ‘89. It’s not that I don’t care about the accomplishments of the players from those eras, but most Cleveland fans know the team’s historic futility during that span and know that anything in those games had little historic impact besides being an interesting footnote; likewise, names such as Joe Azcue, Carmello Castillo, or Phil Hennigan just don’t summon up the same excitement as Tribe legends like Earl Averill or Bob Lemon or even more contemporary role players like Jamey Carroll or Paul Shuey.

No matter what you feel about those guys, this book is full of remembering some guys. The nature of a beast like the Perfect Season Project is that there are tons of names throughout the book. Guys you’ve maybe never heard of, guys you know and love and will never forget, and guys who you’ve almost certainly forgotten. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw! Roger Maris played in Cleveland! Alex Cole was proto-Billy Hamilton! Matt LaPorta was a thing! The act of remembering a lot of the entries in the book is a big part of what makes it fun to read.

And Perfect Season Project is a fun read, delivered at the right time. This year is insane, obviously, and the 162-0 dream became impossible before any games could even be played to remind us how literally impossible such a dream is. But imagination makes anything possible, and the amount of imagination Harnocz used to create this book is laudable. As is true with fan-created content of all stripes (LGT inclusive), you have to be willing to forgive some typos and misspelled names in Perfect Season Project, but unless you’re the toughest grammarian this should be easy to do and should not hurt your ability to enjoy the book.

Perfect Season Project is available in paperback directly from the author and is also available in paperback and digital on Amazon.