Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Baseball Books, Con't!  

David Halberstam's Summer of '49 is a good book too, but the tales of Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees of the 1940s have been told over and over and over again. (Blame the publishing world's obsession with New York City. I'm sure they'd be astonished to know that the world does not end when you leave Manhatten.) So often have these tales been told that they have become stale. A good deal of the book is devoted to Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Two giants of the game. Both were terrific players (and Halberstam gingerly notes, not the best of human beings), maybe the best the game has seen. I enjoyed Halberstam's profiles of them, but I was more interested in his profiles of players like Tommy Heinrich, and Dominic DiMaggio, Joe's brother. There were really terrific stories in there.

This is a good book, but baseball in the 1940s is very different from modern game: very little base-stealing for one thing. It was a very station-to-station game. The players were different: as I recall from the book, Jerry Coleman, the Yankees second baseman, sold suits in the offseason to make ends meet. Hard to believe there actually was an era when the players weren't that different from you & I. Halberstam's October 1964 is a more modern book because it deals with how players changed with the advent of television and increased money. The '49 season was one of the last of the old era.

Alas, the book pretty much focuses on the 1949 American League Yankees - Red Sox pennant race, which the Yankees won by a game when they swept the Red Sox in the season-ending series. Halberstam devotes a chapter to the 1949 Yankees - Dodgers World Series, but mentions of National League baseball (the Phillies) are few and infrequent.

Not as good as October 1964. But still good.

(Halberstam recently wrote a book called The Teamates which deals a little with Williams and his Red Sox teamates: I guess it is a sequel of sorts to Summer of '49.)

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