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.
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