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October 1964 Paperback – April 11, 1995
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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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This book is somewhat mis-named, as only the last chapter is really about the amazing World Series between the fading Yankees and the surging Cards. The book is really about those two teams, their history, and their condition and actions in 1964 that led to their meeting in the Series. It also has a *lot* of detail and history about the acceptance (or lack of, in the case of the Yankees) of black players in the major leagues.
There is also a lot of detail about the owners and management of the two teams. Also, pretty much every player, or at least major player, on the two teams is examined, including their origins and their history up to and including 1964.
I learned more about baseball (esp. about scouting and pitching) and these two teams in this book than I knew overall before. It is a "dense" book - I usually could only read a chapter (they are long chapters) a night. I highly recommend it to all serious fans of both teams.
I now intend to read more of his books sooner rather than later. Halberstam is not just an author, he truly is a top notch journalist, in the best sense.
Recommended for all that are interested in history, no matter the particular category.
More is covered here than just the 1964 World Series. Much baseball history is examined leading up to those years and following 1964. Other teams are included, as to how they were handling various situations and finishing their pennant drive. If you followed Major League Baseball, then or now, you will enjoy this book.
This WS was the last for the famed Yankee franchise before the advent of another seminal period in baseball, free agency. The Yankees had dominated baseball from the time they acquired Babe Ruth until 1964. Featuring some of the most memorable names in baseball history -- Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle and others - the Yankees were the team that most players wanted to play for, in spite of their penny pinching ownership and management. However, the decline of the Yankees that seemingly accelerated with the end of this WS really began when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.
Yankee management remained steadfast in its opposition to integrating their lineup -- fearing they would alienate their "middle class white customers". The Dodger's signing of Robinson was a catalyst for other teams in the National League to increase the pace of signing African-American players -- not out of altruistic reasons, but to stay competitive. These African-American players represented the best talent and if NL teams didn't follow the Dodger's path, they risked falling farther behind competitively. However, the situation in the American League was far different. The two heavyweight franchises, the Yankees and the Red Sox, remained two of the last two teams to sign black players. During this time, it is no surprise that the balance of power shifted from the AL to the NL which became a who's who of Hall of Famers --- Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Banks, Gibson, Brock, Morgan and others. In fact, The Yankees could have extended their dynasty if not for the prejudice of management, passing on Hall of Fame talent Ernie Banks and Willie Mays.
During the 1964 season, it was evident that the great Yankees of this era were fading - Ford, Mantle and Maris - and the farm system just didn't have the talent to replenish. Meanwhile, the Cardinals traded for Lou Brock the previous year, had a top flight first baseman in Bill White, a phenomenal center fielder in Curt Flood and an ascendant pitcher in Bob Gibson. The Cardinals started off 1964 slowly but benefited from the collapse of the Phillies and an amazing second half of pitching by Gibson, Sadecki and others - winning the NL pennant on the last day of the season.
In the 64 WS, we saw glimpses of the Yankee legacy, strong pitching and power, however, it was also marred by erratic defense and the physical breakdown of players like Ford and Mantle. In no small part, the Cardinals put pressure on the Yankees with their aggressive brand of baseball, led by the speed of Brock and Flood. The series went to seven games and Cardinal manager Johnny Keane started Bob Gibson on two days rest --- an almost unthinkable occurrence a few short years ago, a black pitcher starting the most important game of America's pastime. Gibson battled through the fatigue without his best stuff, ultimately going the distance to defeat the Yankees. After the game, when reporters asked Keane why he left in Gibson in the ninth when it was apparent how fatigued he was (giving up two solo HRs), he gave what may have been the ultimate compliment that a manager could have paid any player - "I had a commitment to his heart".
This book is a must read for any serious baseball fan. As a Yankee fan, I read much of this with dismay at the arrogance and ignorance of Yankee management at that time. I also read it with admiration and awe at players like Bob Gibson and Lou Brock - what they still had to endure during a very racially divided America - and performing at the top of their profession in spite of all the barriers thrown their way. Once again Halberstam delivers another classic.