“The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship” by David Halberstam
Baseball, biography, history, Red Sox
May 14, 2003
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Inspired by a trip in 2002 by former Red Sox teammates Dominic DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky to visit their old teammate and friend Ted Williams, award winning author David Halberstam recounts these three teammates along with fellow Red Sox great Bobby Doerr as they maintained friendships well beyond their baseball playing days.
Halberstam displays his talents that won him a Pulitizer Prize as he takes each man’s stories and weaves them together in a collection that is at times inspiring, melancholy, uplifting and even humorous. The reader will learn a lot about each man that wasn’t necessarily written by the sportswriters of the time when they were teammates on the Boston Red Sox. Characteristics like Williams’ distance from his children, Doerr’s devotion to his wife Monica (he is unable to make the trip from Oregon because he is caring for her), Pesky’s willingness to be the “goat” of the famous 1946 World Series play in which Enos Slaughter raced home from first on a base hit that was scored as a single, and DiMaggio’s emergence as a player that stood on his own merit and not just that of his famous brother.
There is plenty of baseball in the book as well. The best of these passages is Pesky’s recollection of the play in which Slaughter scored the winning run of game 6. It is a very interesting take on the play, as it differs significantly than what is typically written. Without giving away Pesky’s story, let’s just say that there were other events that took place or were embellished over time to give the play the romantic feel-good flavor it has today.
While all four men have excellent stories and passages, I was moved by Halberstam’s writing about Doerr. Everything about the man, from the wooing and courtship of his wife to his playing career and his life after baseball is captured in a manner that shows the tenderness and lack of selfishness that makes up the character of Bobby Doerr. His story is one that will stick with the reader for a long time after closing the book.
Halberstam has written several baseball books that have received well-deserved praise and “The Teammates” is one of them. This is a must-read for any baseball fan, young or old, who enjoys stories that show the human side of the players.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
The book is fairly short but reads very quickly as Halberstam gets each man to open up and reveal some very personal stories that they did not share with newspaper writers during their playing days.
Do I recommend?
Anyone who is inspired by accounts of friendship that has endured over many years, whether baseball fans or not, will be touched by this book. I highly recommend for readers of baseball books, biographies or inspirational stories.
Book Format Read: