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October 1964 Paperback – April 11, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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Heroes have a habit of growing larger over time, as do the arenas in which they excelled. The 1964 World Series between the Yankees and Cardinals was coated in myth from the get-go. The Yankees represented the establishment: white, powerful, and seemingly invincible. The victorious Cards, on the other hand, were baseball's rebellious future: angry and defiant, black, and challenging. Their seven-game barnburner, played out against a backdrop of an America emerging from the Kennedy assassination, escalating the war in Vietnam, and struggling with civil rights, marked a turning point--neither the nation, nor baseball, would ever be quite so innocent again. Halberstam, one of the great reporters of the '60s, looks back in this marvelous and spirited elegy to the era, the game, and players such as Mantle, Maris, Ford, Gibson, Brock, and Flood with a clear eye in search of the truth that time has blurred into legend. His confident prose, diligent reporting, and deft analysis make it clear how much more interesting--and forceful--the truth can be.

From Library Journal

This follow-up to the best-selling Summer of '49 assesses the Yankee-Cardinal World Series of 1964.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 11, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449983676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449983676
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on August 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
In the ESPN.com vernacular of the present day, "October 1964" has recently been debunked (but lovingly) by columnist/author Rob Neyer. While the two giants who square off in David Halberstam's tale of an evolving America in 1964 are the suffocating white Establishment (the Yankees) and the young minority upstarts (the Cardinals), Neyer's contention is that this watershed really occurred one year earlier. That was, after all, the year the Yankees were memorably swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
However, Halberstam's take on the demise of the Establishment Yankees is the more accurate one. The '63 World Series was won single-handedly by a couple of white guys, Koufax and Drysdale. Yes, the Dodgers did have five black regulars in the starting lineup, but apart from the second inning of the opening game, they just didn't hit, or make history the way Koufax did.
The 1964 World Series was won by the heroics of men that the Yankees didn't understand, by men who couldn't play for the Yankees, by virtue of who they were. The Yankees could accept being struck out 15 times by Sandy Koufax, but when they struck out 13 times against Bob Gibson -- on whom their sole scouting report was woefully inaccurate -- it was an outrage. Gibson wasn't supposed to have courage, or determination! Lou Brock wasn't supposed to get more hits in the Series than Mickey Mantle!
And yet, the '64 Yankees didn't go quietly in the Series, and in fact they scored more runs than St. Louis. Mantle had an incredible seven games. The Yanks had more walks and homers than the Cardinals, and their pitching (behind white youngers Jim Bouton and Mel Stottlemyre) basically matched St. Louis out for out. At least on paper.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently reread David Halberstam's "October 1964," about the World Series between the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. As other reviewers of this book on Amazon.com have noted, it is social history of a high order. Halberstam uses the World Series of 1964 as a foil to discuss race relations in the decade, both inside baseball and out, for the Yankees represented an approach to society reflective of a status quo that had much more to do with police brutality against civil rights workers in Selma than the Yankees would care to admit. Meantime, the Cardinals expressed much more of the changing climate in America.

As Halberstam points out, it looked as if all the ingredients of a great team were coming together for the Cardinals in the early 1960s. The team had all of the attributes of its successful teams of the past, excellent pitching, great defense, and speed. But there was something more that was critical to the Cardinals success in 1964, as Halberstam emphasizes, how the team bridged the racial divide in the United States to create a cohesive unit. Everyone who visited the Cardinals locker room recognized that something was different from other teams. The African American, White, and Latino players seemed to have an easier relationship than elsewhere. No question, many of the premier players for the Cardinals were African Americans in 1964--Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, and Bill White--and they certainly helped set the tenor of the clubhouse. But southerners like Ken Boyer and Tim McCarver were also committed to the successful integration of American life and brought that perspective to the team as well.
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Format: Hardcover
"OCTOBER 1964" by David Halberstam (1995)
Sometimes the best sports books are not really sports books, as is the case with David Halberstam's brilliant "October 1964", which tells the story of a changing America through the microcosm of two very different baseball teams.
Halberstam, one of the great living American writers, concentrates on events that occurred during tumultuous times. Halberstam examines the loser of the 1964 World Series, the New York Yankees, who represent the old America, and the winners, the St. Louis Cardinals, who represent the new.
The Yankees were the Republican Party, conservative, white, country club elite, old money, Wall Street, the status quo, featuring Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford. Their style of play was to not take chances, and they only had a couple black players.
The Cardinals mirrored Berkeley rabble rousers, and they played "National League baseball"--aggressive, stealing bases, stretching singles into doubles. Bob Gibson-black, college-educated, a man's man with something to prove, was their undisputed leader. Curt Flood was another thoughtful black athlete who harbored quiet resentment over his treatment by rednecks in Southern minor league towns. Tim McCarver came from a well-to-do white family in Memphis that employed black servants, his only frame of reference, until Gibson asked to take a sip from his coke. McCarver hesitatingly handed Gibby the can, Gibby took a big old honkin' Samuel L. Jackson sip, flashed the kid a giant smile, and handed the can back. McCarver's lesson: Sharing with black's is just like sharing with whites.
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