Thursday, December 17, 2009

Second Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

The Teammates by David Halberstam. Hyperion Books, 2003. Genre: Biographical Novel
The Teammates is a novel about the friendship that developed between Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio while they were all members of the Boston Red Sox during the 1940's and 1950's. The thread that holds the book together is the last trip DiMaggio and Pesky made in 2001 to visit Williams before his death. They drove together in a car with a driver, Dick Flavin, and went to Florida to see Williams. The book jumps from past to present telling the stories of each of the four mens' childhoods, their personal lives, and their careers. Halberstam also tells about their lives after their careers, and how they managed to stay friends after all the many years they spent together.
"[A] crystalline gem of a work about old pals, in theory, but really about everything there is." -Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times
The Teammates is a very straight-forward book. Halberstam doesn't try to add any unneeded details that would drag down the pacing. The stories he provides of the four men are all essential to understanding them. Ted Williams is the dominant personality of the book. He always made sure to get his point across to people and when he strongly believed in something, he made sure people knew about it. Bobby Doerr balanced out Williams' personality and was quiet, but very mature. Johnny Pesky was truly devoted to the team, and was like a little brother to Williams. Dom DiMaggio, forever overshadowed by his brother Joe, was an amazing player in his own right, even though most people said he looked nothing like a stereotypical baseball player.
The author vividly makes these real people come alive to the reader on the page. By the end of the book, the reader can understand the diverse personalities of the four men, and how they were able to remain friends for such a long time.
"But the World Series is different. Because the entire nation focuses its attention so intensively, it is the venue where one play in one game, and one play by a player often otherwise uncelebrated, so holds our collective attention that it has its own permanence, and it becomes the defining image of the player." (152)
I have to admit that I'm a fan of baseball, the Red Sox, and the time period in history where most of the book happens. So I probably would be biased by saying that this was one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. I am definitely going to find more books by Halberstam, he is one of the best writers I've read a book by in a while. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of baseball.