I don’t usually read baseball books during baseball season. I like to save them for the off-season. It’s a great system where I don’t over-baseball myself during the summer (Is that even possible?), and it gives me some baseball in the winter when I start jonesin’ for it. I made an exception for this book because it sounded more interesting than the typical baseball memoir, and I didn’t think I could wait till December to read it. I’m glad I didn’t wait.

For a book that covers one season (the 1946 season) it is jammed packed with baseball history goodness. Not only do we get treated to the exciting pennant race leading to a seven-game World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals, but we’re also given many glimpses into the military lives of the players who served in WWII, as well as the American history and culture right after the war. Plus, Weintraub throws in Jackie Robinson’s first year in the Bigs. This book is a massive undertaking of historical and baseball fact-checking. There were times when I felt the book was getting really bogged down with too much information, but the thing this book has going for it is baseball, and baseball is filled with funny, charming, poignant people and stories. So as soon as my attention would start to wander, Weintraub would throw in a great story.

What I really appreciated about this book was that it wasn’t sugar-coated. He shows the players in an honest light. If they had bad attitudes about their salary or teammates or whatever, he didn’t make them out to be saintly heroes. It’s easy to take the legends of baseball and make them sound larger than life, but Weintraub brings them back to earth showing us their gritty, human nature. This is especially true in the Jackie Robinson chapters.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read.  I think any baseball fan would enjoy it.

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