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Praying for Gil Hodges: A Memoir of the 1955 World Series and One Family's Love of the Brooklyn Dodgers Paperback – May 30, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031231762X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312317621
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Driving over a bridge on an Indiana highway named after Hodges, a star first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, sets off a chain of memories from the Dodgers' only World Series victory for Oliphant. His memoir's main narrative thread is his recollection of being allowed to skip school to watch Brooklyn take on the Yankees in the seventh game of the 1955 Series with his father, but the story takes a decidedly circuitous path; retellings of Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's color line and other significant moments in Dodger history appear between stories of growing up in a small Manhattan apartment as the Oliphants coped with the long-term effects of illnesses his father contracted during WWII. The Pulitzer-winning columnist interviews the pitchers for both teams, broadcaster Vin Scully and other baseball fans of his generation. Although Oliphant spends much—perhaps too much—time discussing baseball's glory years, the more personal material distinguishes the memoir. At its best, this isn't a book about baseball, but about a family that found solace and comfort in the sport while making their way through mid-century America. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Driving over a bridge on an Indiana highway named after Hodges, a star first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, sets off a chain of memories from the Dodgers' only World Series victory for Oliphant. His memoir's main narrative thread is his recollection of being allowed to skip school to watch Brooklyn take on the Yankees in the seventh game of the 1955 Series with his father, but the story takes a decidedly circuitous path; retellings of Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's color line and other significant moments in Dodger history appear between stories of growing up in a small Manahattan apartment as the Oliphants coped with the long-term effects of illnesses his father contracted during WWII. The Pulitzer-winning columnist interviews the pitchers for both teams, broadcaster Vin Scully and other baseball fans of his generation. Although Oliphant spends much--perhaps too much--time discussing baseball's glory years, the more psersonal material distinguishes the memoir. At its (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A great tribute to Brooklyn, The Dodgers and most of all Gil Hodges!
Harvey Nussbaum
Oliphant has decent writing ability but this book contains considerable fiction.
H. Eisenberg
Read this book and if you aren't a baseball fan already, you will become one.
upstate bill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on September 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
if you listened to my father and assorted uncles and aunts and neighborhood adults, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Walter O'Malley. This ironic jest (at least I think it was intended to be funny) is usually attributed, as it is in this book, to New York journalists Pete Hamill and Jack Newfield. That may be, but the expression must have enjoyed wide currency throughout Brooklyn in the years after the Dodgers fled Brooklyn for California. I grew up a devoted Met fan but never could quite understand the fierce devotion these adults had for a long gone team. Thomas Oliphant's "Praying for Gil Hodges: A Memoir of the 1955 World Series and One Family's Love of the Brooklyn Dodgers" goes a long way toward explaining why the universe, in Brooklyn at least, revolved around the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Praying for Gil Hodges" is something of an etude in three parts. The foundation of the book is a detailed inning-by-inning account of the seventh game of the 1955 World Series, the one time Brooklyn managed to beat the Yankees. The Yankees had won every World Series from 1949 through 1953, beating strong Dodger teams in 1949, 1952, and 1953. Oliphant wraps two related stories around the seventh game: the story of the role the Dodgers played in his own family; and the story of the intimate relationship between the Dodgers and their fans in Brooklyn.
Oliphant's account of the seventh game (and critical games in the 1955 and earlier World Series defeats) is at once vibrant and concise. It is clear Oliphant has had a long term love affair with baseball and it shows in the details. Although anyone reading the book probably knows the outcome of the game, there is no shortage of excitement in the retelling.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Leonard S. Mishkin on September 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Tom Oliphant has written a heartwarming book about Brooklyn circa 1940-1955. I am 72 years old and have lived in California for 48 years. I came here with the Dodgers. I grew up in the Williamsburg section of Bklyn in a poor working class family. I must admit the book while not a comprehensive history brought tears to my eyes as I read it. I especially enjoyed the era 1940-1950 which Mr Oliphant uses as historical background for the 1955 World Series. The names of those lesser known ballplayers had my mind going back in time.

This is a book to be savoured.

Len Mishkin-Sherman Oaks Calif
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There's something classically mythic about baseball, and probably no team has been mythologized as much as the Brooklyn Dodgers, a team that reached its pinnacle with its only World Series win in 1955 and its ebb when the franchise moved to Los Angeles two years later. Longtime Boston Globe reporter Thomas Oliphant has written a nostalgic memoir along the lines of one of David Halberstam's baseball remembrances, "Summer of `49" about the Yankees. He focuses on the defining seventh game of the 1955 World Series with meticulous conviction and of course, his favorite player, Gil Hodges, for good reason. Originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a third baseman, Hodges held the National League record for grand slams for several years (14), and he is a member of the exclusive club of players that have hit four home runs in a single game. With 1,001, he also had more RBIs during the 1950's than any other player, and he was an eight-time All-Star. Statistics like these are trivial to many but pure gold to any true fan.

Consequently there is no more fitting legend than Hodges for Oliphant to praise with such worshipful awe. At the same time, the author touches upon the issue of race, as baseball was still in the throes of Jackie Robinson's breakthrough, and describes how much the Dodgers meant to their African-American fans. The book is a great read for anyone who wants to understand the degree of passion behind the "Boys of Summer" at Ebbets Field, as Oliphant traces his childhood within the context of the team's winning season. He goes into vivid detail about the borough and its inhabitants and why the team became so important to them even when owner Walter O'Malley left Kings County for the greener pastures of LA. Oliphant makes the book resonate by personalizing the role of baseball in the American fabric without getting didactic with obscure statistics. This is ideal summer reading even for those with a passing interest in the game.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jack Douglas on July 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Having just read Oliphant's book, I was amused by these last two reviews. An editing error or two, the many reminders of the writer's romance with Brooklyn -- so what! These and the other occurances cited are dwarfed by the writer's lyrical account of a changing Brooklyn in the 1950s. For a Bronx (not Brooklyn) boy who lived for everything NY Yankees, and who shares no particular love for the beloved Democratic Party of the author's parents, Oliphant managed to make this book a must read for me and for all those lucky enough to understand that New York was then, and continues to be, the greatest symbol of urban America in the 20th Century. Olpihant may not be the first to tell this story, but he's certainly among the very best.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alan Weiss on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The author does an excellent job weaving in his own childhood and connecting it to the fate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. As someone who watched those Dodgers two or three times in my youth, I found the descriptions evocative and well-drawn. Actually, the book is more about pitcher Johnny Podres than Gil Hodges, and the author has some wonderful interviews with surviving team members. There are scores of little-known facts reported which bring new dimension to the familiar story of that seventh game of the 1955 World Series.

I must report, as the author of two dozen books myself and being quite familiar with commercial publishing, that this is unquestionably the worst editing I've ever seen from a major publisher and major writer. The errors in spelling, syntax, punctuation, and general grammar are so common that they are distracting.

If you're a baseball fan in general and/or a Dodger fan in particular, this is a compelling subject and history. If you love the English language, the narrative will also drive you crazy at times.
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