Summer of '49

Summer of '49

by David Halberstam

With incredible skill, passion, and insight, Pulitzer Prizewinningauthor David Halberstam returns us to a glorious time when the dreams of a now almost forgotten America rested on the crack of a bat.The year was 1949, and a war-weary nation turned from the battlefields to the ball fields in search of new heroes. It was a summer that marked the beginning of a sports rivalry unequaled in the annals of athletic competition. The awesome New York Yankees and the indomitable Boston Red Sox were fighting for supremacy of baseball's American League, and an aging Joe DiMaggio and a brash, headstrong hitting phenomenon named Ted Williams led their respective teams in a classic pennant duel of almost mythic proportionsone that would be decided in an explosive head-to-head confrontation on the last day of the season.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Sports and Games
  • Rating: 4.07
  • Pages: 384
  • Publish Date: May 9th 2006 by William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Isbn10: 0060884266
  • Isbn13: 9780060884260

What People Think about "Summer of '49"

As much as the press loved Joe DiMaggio they hated Ted Williams. DiMaggio was the best player of his era, but no one would question who was the best hitter. DiMaggio was the Yankee Clipper and Williams was a Boston Red Sox. In the summer of 1949 those two teams were squaring off to see who would go to the World Series. To make things even more interesting Joes little brother Dom played for the Red Sox. His whole career was spent in the shadow of his brother, but he was one hell of a player in his own right. The Red Sox got down early in the season, at one point by eleven games, but then clawed their way back into the race. The Yankees and Red Soxs met in a final series at the very end of the season to determine who was going to win the pennant It was very simplewin or go home. He wasnt alone, other players as well partied on their off hours as hard as they played on the field. Ellis Kinder Yogi Berra was the first ball player to get an agent. A man by the name of Frank Scott noticed that Yogi was being paid in watches instead of money whenever he would give speeches or attend events. I didnt see these young ball players as millionaires, maybe because they didnt act like millionaires. From the days when players used to run out every play at first; or they would steal without giving a thought to the cost to their bodies; or lay out for spectacular catches in the outfield. These young men from the Royals played last season seemingly unaware of the stats sheet. It was as if the Royals woke the whole league up and reminded everyone of when a baseball game was as magical as anything Walt Disney ever dreamed up.

This summer, baseball came back to me. But this summer, baseball started to appeal to me again. Baseball is the immortal game. When I felt my anxiety start to rise, Id flip through the channels until I found the Kansas City Royals playing the Chicago White Sox on Fox Sports Midwest. In this newfound spirit, this sudden rejuvenation of love for the national pastime, I went in search of a good baseball book. Because despite all the great things about baseball the complex history; the mythic heroes; the traditions; the beer-swilling the games also tend to be a bit boring at times. A short, non-scientific survey of various internet lists of best-baseball-books quickly brought me to David Halberstams Summer of 49. In broad strokes, Summer of 49 is concerned with the 1949 pennant race between Joe DiMaggios New York Yankees and Ted Williams Boston Red Sox. Spoiler Alert for time-travelers from 1948: The battle came down to a final game in which the Yankees beat the then-hapless-now-insufferable Red Sox to go to the World Series. For even Hemingway, then at the height of his fame, could not compete with DiMaggio His deeds remain like a beacon to those who saw him play. Opening Day, he wroteis not merely a day of annual renewal, it evokes the bittersweet passage of our own lives as I take my son to the game and remember when I held my fathers hand and wondered whether DiMag would hit .350 that year There are also less-remembered players, like the Yankees Jerry Coleman: Jerry Coleman, a young second baseman, was a rookie that spring, and he lived in constant terror. Maybe so (Im a non-purist in the sense that I think the Wild Card system has really goosed late-summer and early autumn baseball), but Halberstam didn't do much to convince me of this belief. Even if you dont know the outcome, Halberstams digressionary style and lazy, yarn-spinning approach doesnt do anything to build tension. Still, Summer of 49 is mostly content to bask in the glories of the old ball game, a gauzy look (lit like The Natural) at a time when first pitch took place in the afternoon, when you listened to events on the radio, and when ballplayers were regular Joes taking the train between cities. Of course, being the high-strung, supremely anxious, mind-racing person I am, I couldnt help but read between the lines.

The Summer of 49 is about the American League pennant race of that year between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Although the author researched the book in usual ways, his main research consisted of interviewing scores of people mentioned in the book. (He lists the 49 AL race as number 6.) In 48, with one week to go in the season, three teams were tied with identical 91-56 records: the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Cleveland Indians. Halberstam writes about the baseball of the 1940s, particularly the differences between the prewar, war, and post-war years, and sets the stage for the renewal of the Boston/Yankee rivalry in 1949. A lot of time is spent introducing the two main players: Bostons Ted Williams, the Yankees Joe DiMaggio. Were told of the contrasting levels of confidence between the Boston and New York teams as they arrived for spring training that year. The Red Sox felt confident, knowing theyd beaten New York the previous season, and had just missed out playing in the World Series. Early in the spring, the experts were figuring the Yankees and Red Sox as equal favorites for the 1949 pennant. But by the time the season started, with DiMaggio now shelved for an undetermined amount of time, a poll of 112 major league sports writers was able to muster only a single vote for the Yankees winning the pennant. The Season The next ten chapters tell Halberstams wandering story of the season, up to the final series. The Course of the Campaign In the early weeks of the season the Red Sox had started slowly, while the Yankees, despite the absence of DiMaggio, got off to a good start. On June 1 they had a 4 game lead on the second place Boston team. On Tuesday, August 8th, the Yankees opened a three game series in Boston, still ahead by 6 . (From this point in the season Boston was to go 37-14 over their final 47 games.) On September 1 the Red Sox were in 2nd, 3 games behind. Ted Williams used to say that when he was to face a really tough pitcher, he might think about him for 24 hours before the game. Newhouser was a great power pitcher, but Williams felt that this time he had struck him out by cheating. And this brings us to b>The main players Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Williams (age 22), the last Major League player to bat over .400 for a season; DiMaggio (27) setting the inconceivable record of getting a hit in 56 consecutive games, perhaps the sports record least likely to ever be broken. It was the almost perfect combination: his deeds amplified by Mel Allens voice.Moving from DiMaggio (and the Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen) to Williams, heres Halberstam on a remark made by Williams friend, the Red Sox sportscaster Curt Gowdy.He was the least bigoted man of his time. Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel I hope some day Satchell Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they were not given the chancePaige yes, 1971. This weekend the Yankees played a two-game series at Boston. The very next day, Monday 9/26, the teams played again, in Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox had their first lead of the season. The Yankees played at home against the Philadelphia Athletics, who were actually 9 games above .500, in fifth place; the Red Sox traveled to Washington for a set against the last-place Senators, who were then 48-101. Not only did he give the Boston right-handers a difficult time, but he was poison to Ted Williams. He was good that day, giving up only four hits, but the Red Sox hurler, Chuck Stobbs was better, taking a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning. The Red Sox came into Yankee Stadium, two games left, a one-game lead. Still, Boston only had to win one game to wrap up the pennant. Saturday The Red Sox pulled out to a 4-0 lead, but the Yankees, with 2 runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, tied it up. Meanwhile the Yankees great relief pitcher Joe Page had relieved in the third inning and threw the rest of the game (6.2 innings) giving up only one hit. Then in the bottom of the eight Mel Parnell and Tex Hughson gave up four runs between them, the last three on a two-out bases loaded bloop double by Jerry Coleman a hit that Coleman felt deeply ashamed of for a long time afterward, thinking it had made him an undeserving hero. The Yankees countered with Rizzuto, Coleman, Henrich, Berra, Gene Woodling, Bobby Brown, Hank Bauer, and of course DiMaggio, with pitchers Raschi, Allie Reynolds, Tommy Byrne, Eddie Lopat, and Joe Page. And when the Yanks followed it up by winning again in 1950 and 1951, it marked the first time a team had ever won three WS Championships in a row. The Yankees sense of entitlement to a WS check; racism in the AL, on the Yankees, and on the Sox; Don Newcombe on racism; A different era, a different time an older one fading into a newer (pitchers not drinking anything during a game, for fear of bloating; the coming of night baseball, TV, travel by plane, agents, and of course Black ballplayers); the press and reporters in the two cities; Toots Shore; the radio and TV announcers. and finally Halberstam writes of John Updikes farewell to Ted Williams in the New Yorker, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu. (3:00) President George Bush, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio 1991 The New York Daily News For another baseball review: _to TOP TEN_ .

Mr. Halberstam begins the book in 1948, a year that featured a three-way battle for the league title between the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Cleveland Indians. The rest of the book takes the reader into the baseball season of 1949, covering the pennant race that would essentially be about two teams, Boston and New York. Mr. Halberstam then takes the time to tie everything up in a nice package with a what-happened-to-them-later chapter, a fitting end to a great book.

Goddamm, But Playing Baseball Is Fun, 9 Aug 2007 "Old-time baseball players and fans love to denigrate the modern ballplayer. It's positively a shame, and they are getting big money for it, too." Bill Joyce, 1916 Ballplayer 'The Golden Age of Baseball' began when players returned from the war until 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants decided to continue their rivalry in California. For those of us who are Boston Red Sox or New York Yankee fans, one of the biggest baseball rivalries in history, 'Summer of '49' explains much of the history and romance of these two teams. The subject is the pennant race of 1949 between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox which wasn't decided until the last game of the season. David Halberstam brings us the day to day spotliughts of the Red Sox and Yankees for an entire year, from the end of the 1948 season through 1949. David Halberstam reveals the characters and gives us a glimpse of baseball during The Golden Age. He interviewed almost every living member of those teams and several people on the outside--fans, broadcasters, baseball executives, writers, relatives of players--over a hundred in all.

1949 was a bit before my first MLB ball game interest but this book, written 40 years after the season with the aid of most of the principle players, captures brilliantly one of the best pennant chases in history between two of the greatest rivals of all time: the Yankees and the Red Sox. At a time when baseball and American culture was on the verge of a monumental change because of television, this season was still played out in the imaginations of radio listeners. I loved getting to know Bobby Doerr, Kinder and Allie Reynolds, Joe McCarthy, Eddie Lopat, Vic Raschi,, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky. The only player who refused to meet Halberstam for an interview was Joe DiMaggio.

They are also applicable words to Halberstams well told novel about the Yankees-Red Sox pennant race in 1949, for if you were to judge this book by its cover you would think that it was a poorly researched cartoon about baseball. Halberstam rightly spends a good amount of time on the teams two stars: DiMaggio and Williams. Every year during spring training, as I prepare for my fantasy baseball draft, I like to read a baseball book to remind me that the game is still about people, events and ideas and not just statistics.

Even though "Summer of '49" is way before my time, I appreciated it on a number of levels.

David Halberstam was an American journalist and historian, known for his work on the Vietnam War, politics, history, the Civil Rights Movement, business, media, American culture, and later, sports journalism. After publication of The Best and the Brightest in 1972, Halberstam plunged right into another book and in 1979 published The Powers That Be. The book provided profiles of men like William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time magazine, Phil Graham of The Washington Postand many others.