Monday, April 30, 2007


It's probable that you have seen that David Halberstam died in the last week. I have only read three of his books: Teammates, Summer of '49 and October 1964. Summer of '49 was the first book by him that I read and it is still the baseball book by which all others are measured. The only book on baseball I have read that comes close to the majesty of '49 is The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn.

As a reporter and historian he brought to his books on baseball much more than the game. He brought in the world around the game that directly influenced how the game was poplulated and played. You can't have a major sporting league without the society that supports and staffs it. He knew that and brought the contemporary American culture into both Summer of '49 and October 1964. Two aspects of October 1964 really stand out to me: his description of the majesty of the young Mickey Mantle and the baseball tragedy of his early injuries and the awe in which the teammates of this damaged warrior held him and how the embrace of integration by the St. Louis Cardinals allowed them to beat the Yankees in 1964 and how the Yankees' management ignored racial integration and paid for it and didn't finish in 1st place again until 1976.

If you are even in the mood to read a baseball book you can't go wrong by picking up any of three books I mentioned above. He captures the game, the time and the players better than anyone else.

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