Review: The Teamates

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship by David Halberstam

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anyone who knows me is likely surprised I read a book about baseball players. I’m fairly disinterested in sports, but something about this book caught my eye. I think it was the subtitle: A Portrait of Friendship. And, truthfully, almost all of my friends are interested in sports and I thought it was a good opportunity to catch a little history of the game of baseball. This book captures the two things I found interesting and does it well.

It really is a book about a longtime friendship between four 1940s Boston Red Sox players: Dominic DiMaggio (younger brother of the better-known DiMaggio), Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams. The backdrop of the book is a trip that Pesky, DiMaggio, and another friend take to see their dying friend Ted Williams. (Doerr was unable to go because he was caring for his wife who had suffered a stroke.) As they travel there are reminisces of the life in baseball they had all enjoyed. More than that, author Halverstam unearths stories of their upbringing that give insight into how these men became the men they were. There are times of recounting important games or memorable plays.

As one might guess, Ted Williams is the center character in all of their stories. “For many years, the glue that held them together as friends was Williams; someone that great, one of the very best ever at what they all did, had rare peer power. ‘It was,’ Pesky once said of him, ‘like there was a star on top of his head, pulling everyone toward him like a beacon, and letting everyone around him know that he was different and that he was special in some marvelous way and that we were that much more special because we had played with him.'”

This road-trip of a lifetime was sparked by a lifelong friendship that held together through many difficult years. As I read and became familiar with these players that I’m sure every true baseball fan knows so much about, I was not looking forward to their arrival to have a final visit with Williams.

“It had all come down to this one, final visit. They had once felt immortal, so sure of their youth and their strength and their futures, so immune to the vagaries of age. They had made it through the Depression and World War Two. true, they had never overtaken the Yankees the way that they had hoped…”

I’m thankful the book doesn’t dote too long on that last visit. The bulk of the book is about the friendship that led to their road trip. It is in this friendship that I found some attachment to this book. I admit that in some of the writing about particular games and plays I didn’t quite get it. But I did get why these men never lost touch with one another.

David Halberstam is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, journalist, and historian. He has had multiple national bestsellers.

I recommend this little book to any who have even a passing interest in baseball or friendship. Maybe those two things go together more than I realize.

View all my reviews