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56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports Hardcover – March 8, 2011
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Runner-Up, PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
Best Biography/Autobiography, San Francisco Book Festival
"The best baseball book to appear in many a season." --Roger Kahn
"The era, the ballplayer and the record are all laid out beautifully.... The tension of the times is matched by the pressure of the streak." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Kennedy combines the sweep of a historian, the narrative power of a novelist and the passion of a fan." --Allen Barra, Newsday
"Kennedy has produced a book that, like its subject, is destined to hold up over time." --Tom Verducci
"A wonderful book. And what may be the last word on a record that may last forever." --Gay Talese
"Kostya Kennedy rescues The Streak from the numberish precinct of the record book and brings it back to the realm of drama which it dominated in 1941. He follows the ripples of DiMaggio's doings to the wide world beyond baseball and delivers to us a tale that's a delight." --Richard Ben Cramer
"56--the number alone still has meaning, but there is a compelling and textured story behind it, a story that pre- and postdates the summer of 1941. Kostya Kennedy tells that story beautifully." --Bob Costas
About the Author
More About the Author
Kennedy grew up on Long Island. Before Columbia, he graduated with honors as a philosophy major from Stony Brook University where he played exactly one game in the school's rogue bloodsport, pit hockey. Kennedy also used to play bass guitar in the specialty rock cover band Rychyrd Prychyrd (the specialty: The band played songs by Kiss and Lynyrd Skynyrd). He now lives with his wife and children in New York.
Top Customer Reviews
This is more than a recounting of the games in which the Yankee Clipper swatted his way into the baseball history books. We are also provided with the relationship with his wife, the former Dorothy Arnold who cheered her husband along. When their child was born in October of 1941 things changed between the two partners with a divorce eventually ensuing. The death of Yankee great Lou Gehrig took place on June 2nd during the early stages of the streak, and author Kennedy relates tidbits about Gehrig I hadn't read in numerous other accounts of the Iron Horse. This is also the story of Joe's relationship with brother Dominic, the center fielder of the Boston Red Sox and his superstar teammate Ted Williams who went on to hit an astounding .406 that year.
While DiMaggio may have appeared to be calm and regal as he went about his business during the streak he was churning up inside. The first goal he was to take aim at was George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns who hit in 41 consecutive games in 1922, then came Willie Keeler's streak of 44 consecutive games with the Baltimore Orioles in 1897.Read more ›
I am disciplined, hard working...
And I stayed up all of last night and kept reading all of today because Kostya Kennedy's "56" is an outstanding book and one I just couldn't put down. It is like stepping into a time machine, an exciting, thought provoking time machine that took me to a world just before I was born.
This could be the finest sports book I have ever read. Not only does it place all of Joe DiMaggio's streak into historical perspective, a fascinating and well conceived historical perspective but he even gives us a final segment on probability theory and how it relates (or, really, doesn't relate) to what Joe DiMaggio did in 1941.
The final line of the book is memorable.
If you have the least interest in baseball, buy this book right now, today, and stay up all night reading it as I did.
For two straight months, DiMaggio came to the ballpark, and for two straight months, he hit. Some games, he would get his hit in his first at-bat; others, it would be in his final at-bat. There were questionable events along the way that helped keep the streak alive, such as the official scorer ruling a potential error a hit, and an opposing pitcher's decision to go against his manager and pitch to DiMaggio rather than walk him. As the streak grew in length, Joe was mobbed by fans in every stadium he played in, but none more so than Yankee Stadium. After each game, fans would run onto the field and try to steal his cap or pat him on the back (imagine fans trying to do that today). A song was written about Joe by Les Brown that became a big hit.
Finally, in the sweltering heat of July, the Yankees traveled to Cleveland for a series with the Indians. DiMaggio had extended his streak to 56 games, and was looking for more, but he ran up against two fine pitchers, and Ken Keltner, the Indians' 3rd baseman, made two spectacular defensive plays, taking away a sure hit each time. Just like that, the streak ended.Read more ›
IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE READ ON THE SUBJECT
AND I'VE READ QUITE A FEW OF THEM. IT IS WELL
WRITTEN AND HARD TO PUT DOWN ONCE YOU
START IT. IT REALLY TAKES YOU BACK IN
TIME IN WHAT AMERICA WAS ALL ABOUT THAT
YEAR. THIS IS NOT JUST ANOTHER JOE DIMAGGIO
BOOK. IT IS A MUST READ FOR BASEBALL HISTORIANS!
Kostya Kennedy has compiled this fascinating perspective of DiMaggio's remarkable consistency, and how a nation became captivated with this story as each new milestone was reached. DiMaggio, whose public personna reflected a cool detachment about his on-field performance, was actually quite obsessed with sustaining this streak, and when it finally ended, was quite bummed-out. When teammate Phil Rizzuto tried to console the Yankee Clipper after that fateful day in Cleveland, Joe said he'd just as soon be left alone for a while, then proceeded to borrow a few bucks from Scooter so he could drown his sorrows with a few cocktails at a bar near their hotel.
Kennedy's uniquely detailed account of the way a very human ballplayer who was idolized by millions, accomplished a feat that may never be equalled again; at least, not in any of our lifetimes. It's a truly fascinating story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When it sticks to the streak it is great. .however there is too much not streak related .Published 25 days ago by Richard G Cardillo
Probably the toughest record to break in baseball will be Cy Young’s lifetime 511 wins, since so few pitchers win 20 or more games any more. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Kiwiwriter
Enjoyed the story and side stories but thought all the probability analysis was too much and made the end boringPublished 1 month ago by Michael L Jacobi
This book makes you feel you're in the middle of the events taking place. Even if you're not a baseball fan it's a great read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Another great baseball story. The baseball lover in me could not put down the book.Published 3 months ago by Bobby
It was May 15, 1941. As America watched newsreels and read about the fascist menace in Europe, another type of horror gripped the American people. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Brian Indians Fan
nostalgia and history and a great read for all who love baseball....
even if you are not a ball fan this is worth the time to read...highly recomment
The story of one of sports most well-known records Joe Dimaggio's fifty- six consecutive game hitting streak is the subject of this book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Shalom Freedman