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The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship Hardcover – May 14, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As baseball legend Ted Williams lay dying in Florida, his old Boston Red Sox teammates Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio piled into a car and drove 1,300 miles to see their friend. Another member of the close-knit group, Bobby Doerr, remained in Oregon to tend to his wife who had suffered a stroke. Besides providing a poignant travelogue of the elderly Pesky and DiMaggio's trip, David Halberstam's The Teammates goes back in time to profile the men as young ballplayers. Although it is enlightening to learn about Doerr, Pesky, and DiMaggio, the leader of the group and star of the book is Williams. Halberstam portrays the notoriously moody and difficult Williams as a complex man: driven by a rough childhood and a fiercely competitive nature to become perhaps the greatest pure hitter of all time while also being a magnetic personality and loving friend. While there is nothing exceptionally unusual about old men who have stayed friends (plenty of people stay friends, after all), baseball gives this particular relationship a unique makeup. Unlike most friendships, that of Williams, Doerr, Pesky, and DiMaggio was viewed all summer long by hooting, hollering Red Sox fans. As such, their bond is forged both of individual accomplishment, win-loss records, numerous road trips, and, since they played for the Red Sox, annual doses of disappointment. Halberstam, author of Summer of '49 and October 1964 is the ideal writer to tell two equally intriguing stories, both rich in America's pastime. Although he occasionally drops himself into the narrative, one expects that of Halberstam and gladly accepts it in exchange for the highly readable exposition infused with poetic majesty that has become his trademark. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Famed journalist and baseball aficionado Halberstam (Summer of '49) presents a short but sweet account of the lives and friendship of four ballplayers from the legendary Boston Red Sox teams of the 1940s: Ted Williams, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr. Told in a series of flashbacks as DiMaggio and Pesky drive from Massachusetts to Florida to see an ailing Williams for what was probably their last time, Halberstam's story is less a biography and more a reverie for "men of a certain generation, born right at the end of World War I" who "had seized on baseball as their one chance to get ahead in America." The book tells the various ways each player "shared an era," from their childhoods to their first meetings through their long tenures with the Red Sox. As in his other sports books, Halberstam has a great eye for the telling detail behind an athlete's facade, whether it is Williams's sense of himself as "a scared, unwanted, unloved kid from a miserable home" or Pesky's stoic acceptance of being blamed for the Red Sox's loss in the seventh game of the 1946 World Series, when in fact-as Halberstam clearly shows-it was not Pesky's fault at all. Fans of Halberstam's work will be satisfied by his chapter-long description of that crucial World Series game. But that is merely the more obviously exciting part of a book in which the main pleasures are more quiet glimpses of the four friends, including Doerr's calming influence over the more explosive Williams, DiMaggio's heroic fight against Paget's disease and the friends' final, touching meeting with Williams in Florida.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (May 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140130057X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401300579
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The 1946 World Series match-up between Boston and the St. Louis Cardinals went to seven games before Boston finally lost the championship, and Halberstam makes this seventh game come alive in all its frustrating excitement. The book is unique, however, not because of its rehash of old ball games, but because it brings back an era, more than a half-century ago, when close and supportive friendships developed between players who spent their whole careers on the same team. Telling the story of the sixty-year friendship of baseball greats Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky of the Boston Red Sox, Halberstam shows the kind of friendship which was possible in an era in which players were people, not commodities.

Warm and nostalgic, the book opens in October, 2001, as Dom DiMaggio, accompanied by Boston writer Dick Flavin and Johnny Pesky, makes a melancholy car trip from Boston to Florida to pay a last visit to Ted Williams, who is dying. As the men drive from Boston to Florida, they reminisce about their playing days more than fifty years in the past, recalling anecdotes about their friendship and talking about their lives, post-baseball.

Halberstam uses these memories as the framework of this book, describing the men from their teenage years. All were from the West Coast, all were about the same age, all arrived in Boston to begin their careers within the same two-year period, and all shared similar values. Ted Williams, "the undisputed champion of contentiousness," was the most dominant of the group. Bobby Doerr was Williams's closest friend and roommate, "a kind of ambassador from Ted to the rest of the world," Doerr himself being "very simply among the nicest and most balanced men.
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Format: Hardcover
Just in time for the great Red Sox season of '03, the one in which they definitely will win the World Series, comes this rich portrait of four former Sox teammates: Bobby Doerr, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and the immortal Ted Williams. David Halberstrom's book could almost be an addendum to Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation, this chronicle of four Depression-era scrappers from California sandlots and their lives both between the lines and, just as interesting, outside them.
In just under 200 pages, we travel with DiMaggio, Pesky, and friend Dick Flavin from Massachusetts to Florida to pay one last visit to their beloved teammate before his death. We learn about the remarkably similar paths each player took to the big league Red Sox, and what a different world baseball was before free agency. We get a peek at the closeness between these men - a bond stronger than family ties.
It's remarkable, for instance, to learn that Joe DiMaggio, the great icon who hit in 56 straight games, led the Yankees through all those glory years, and married Marilyn Monroe, actually felt that his brother Dominic had bettered him in life. Dominic a successful, always hardworking businessman, retired wealthy after running a manufacturing company and had a tighter relationship with Ted Williams than with Joe. He was there for Ted, visiting and calling every day right up to Ted's death. It's remarkable that each of Ted's teammates Doerr, Pesky and DiMaggio seemed to have had more successful lives outside baseball than Ted ever could. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio...American legends, yet they never had much success with families or work...precisely what Ted's teammates were great at.
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Format: Hardcover
Ted Williams always said that David Halberstam was his favorite writer - the "BEST writer" - and as usual Ted was right. Halberstam is a literary craftsman with few equals, especially when he turns his pen to matters "baseballic," as Ted might put it. This is the story of four outstanding ballplayers, each more than worthy of having their own life history recounted. But more importantly this is a book about the enduring nature of friendship. These red Sox icons were not millionaire ballplayers who went their separate ways when the game was over. These are friends who cared about one another and stuck by one another through thick and thin. These are men of great character, making this an inspirational book. The fact that it is written by one of the great writers of our time eliminates any elements of schmaltz, while revealing a memorable epic about mutual respect and caring. If you want to know about the kind of devotion generated by Theodore Samuel Williams, read this book. This and Bill Lee's revisonist Red Sox history in which these men - Pesky, Doerr, DiMaggio and Ted - finally get their just rewards (THE LITTLE RED SOX BOOK) represent baseball at its best. Two great summer reads.
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Format: Hardcover
David Halberstam's tribute to four teammates from the Red Sox of his youth is a baseball story that goes beyond baseball to something much deeper. Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Ted Williams (two Hall-of-Famers and two should-be Hall-of-Famers) played together in the late 30's, the 40's, and the early 50's for one of the great baseball teams of the 20th century. While the four were teammates, they were much more, they were friends. While baseball provides the backdrop, the friendship and love that these men have for each other is the theme of the book.
Pulitzer Prize winner Halberstam writes admiringly, often inserting his own personal remarks. He is not just an observer, he is a fan. Halberstam carries the men through their playing careers up to a final road trip that Pesky and DiMaggio make to Florida to visit with their dying friend Ted Williams. Everyone should be so lucky to be part of a group of friends like these--but, sadly, few do.
This is an easy read, but not one for younger baseball fans. Halberstam quotes Ted Williams accurately (and Williams freely uses profanity). This does not damage the book, in fact, it reflects reality, but it does make it the written equivalent of a PG-13 movie.
When Halberstam writes, it is well worth reading. This is no exception.
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