Publisher Vision, 1998
Author: Pete Hamill
My mother bought this book for me years ago, when I was a kid, but I did not read it until yesterday, when I read the whole thing (all 382 pages of it!). It’s a tale of the great melting pot of New York City and of disparate groups working together to ensure that good triumphs over evil. It is a tale of acceptance and teamwork, combined with a touch of magic at the end to make it all work.
All of that is well and good, but I had a slight problem in that the characters didn’t strike me as real. In essence, they were too good to be true, so while I was captivated by the story itself, I also found that I had a hard time seeing its storyline as in any way realistic. With reviews calling it a “great American novel,” one has to wonder what that means, or if it even means anything at all, nowadays.
I will say that perhaps the most intriguing part of this book was a short passage somewhere in the middle about how Durocher would’ve fought the Phillies and Ben Chapman but as he was suspended for 1947 and Burt Shotton was managing in his stead, Jackie would have to simply endure the insults; and then they gave a brief explanation as to the nature of and reasons for the suspension. I can’t remember Scully saying anything about it–though I’m sure he has and it just slipped my mind or I didn’t take mental note of it–and it filled me in on a bit of baseball history with which I wasn’t all that familiar. It’s an event that says a lot about the management of the Major Leagues at the time.
For whatever it’s worth, that’s my biggest takeaway from it; otherwise it was a read for pleasure kind of book, and served just that purpose.