Summer of '49 Mass Market Paperback – April 2, 1990
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About the Author
David Halberstam was one of America's most distinguished journalists and historians. He covered the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement and reported for the New York Times on the war in Vietnam. The author of fifteen bestsellers, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his Vietnam reporting. He was killed in a car accident on April 23, 2007, while on his way to an interview for what was to be his next book.
- Publisher : Avon; Reissue edition (April 2, 1990)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0380710757
- ISBN-13 : 978-0380710751
- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.19 x 0.88 x 6.88 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #866,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Then for reasons I cannot explain, I turned to baseball. I had at best a passing acquaintance with the game. I attended some Detroit Tiger games at Tiger Stadium. The last being in 1991 when I was 28. But the positiveness of the game struck me. The "wait till next year," and the passion fans have for eternally losing ball clubs, was something I can relate to. We can marvel and rejoice at Kirk Gibson's immortal home run in 1988. But I think even more, we can relate to Boston's Bill Buckner's error that cost the Red Sox game 6 in the 1986 World Series. Who hasn't committed some gaffe in their lives?
There was something about the legendary Yankees Red Sox rivalry, but I believe that there was a larger than life quality to the players of that era. Their names, their passion for the game and their prowess was the stuff of legend: Joe and Dom DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Tommy Henrich, Phil Rizzuto, Birdie Tebbets, Yogi Berra, Mel Parnell. These days, I can go to YouTube or mlb.com and watch almost any player of the last 25 years and watch highlight moments with a click of a button. I think because not every moment was filmed or recorded for these players, their deeds take root in the imagination. There's film of the era, but it's grainy and all we are left with are photos of the season. When TV was in the future, we had to rely on the great announcers like Mel Allen and Red Barber to paint the scene for us. That allowed for us to fill in the gaps with color and pageantry in our imaginations, the perfect accompaniment to what they would so eloquently say over the airwaves.
This book is a fast moving chronicle of the 1949 season. Boston looked fierce with a roster of power hitters anchored by Ted Williams. The Yankees, clearly aging, but competitive, lead by Joe DiMaggio, his career clearly on the wane looked vulnerable. Instead, what would emerge was a classic collision between longtime rivals and we would be left with a season to remember.
Halberstam was 16 when this season was underway. He was a Yankees fan and he cheered his heroes when they won and despaired when they lost. With Summer of '49, his book reads quickly and we can relive the last years when DiMaggio and Williams were still playing, still competing and not yet fading into legend and enshrinement in Cooperstown. It reads briskly and the only flaw I can think of is that the '49 World Series is only covered briefly.
Still, if you want to see an America where times were simpler, politics had their place and an entire nation sought some kind of salvation on the baseball diamond, this is the book for you.
The 1949 season turned out to be just as exciting as the Yankees and Red Sox’s battled it out for the American League pennant. The season began with the Yankees great Joe DiMaggios (who’d bridged the team from the Ruth/Gehrig era to the Mantle/Maris era) being out with an injured foot. The other great hitter was the Red Sox’s Ted Williams. Also playing for the Red Sox’s was Joe’s brother, Dominic. It was an exciting season in which the Yankees won the pennant in the last inning of the last game as the two teams battled it out.
Halberstam, who was a teenager during this season, captures the excitement that came down to the final inning. Once again, the Red Sox’s are disappointed. The Yankees win. Halberstam tells the story of this season, providing insight into the financial workings of baseball as well the changes that were taking place. This was a time when players still mostly traveled in trains, but planes were making their debut. It was also a time that most games, which had previously not been broadcast locally, were being on the air and great names were emerging in the broadcast booth, many who would soon become the well-known reporters who overshadowed the previously honored sportswriters. Even television made an appearance during the World Series. And for the Yankees, new names were rising up such as their new manager, Casey Stengel, and their rookie catcher, Yogi Berra. Other players who would grow into greatness were also beginning to make themselves known such as Willie Mays (whom the Yankees took a pass on due to his race).
Although I have never liked the Yankees, I was impressed with their teams discipline and how they instilled hard playing in each member of the team. Joe DiMaggio exemplifies this when asked why he plays so hard in games in which little was at stake and he responded that there might be someone in the crowd who’d never seen him play. For anyone who enjoys baseball, this is a good read.
Top reviews from other countries
It might not resonate as well with younger readers.