Friday, May 02, 2008

Even if you aren't a Red Sox fan ...

This week I finished THE TEAMMATES, a short masterpiece of non-fiction by David Halberstam.

It's the story of four Boston Red Sox teammates from the 1930s and '40s who remained lifelong friends (from left on the book cover) Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and the legendary Ted Williams.

It opens in the fall of 2001, when DiMaggio and Pesky, accompanied by another friend, embark on a long drive (for anyone, let alone octogenarians) to pay a final visit to the dying Williams.

Halberstam uses that trip as the foundation of telling the stories of each of the four, and how their lives became forever intertwined. Of course, the nucleus of the group -- with the negative and positive forces that go with it -- was Williams, who had a dominant personality to go along with his dominance on the playing field.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author, Halberstam, who died in a traffic accident a year ago, does a masterful job. It's not a long book -- just 224 pages of good-sized type, with a decent number of photos. Reading his accounts of the conversation and banter among the men, I wondered if Halberstam had been along on the road trip. He had not.

Even if you, like me, don't root for the Red Sox, I think that if you like baseball and appreciate good writing, The Teammates is a book you would enjoy.

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