The postwar baseball season began as Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Slaughter, and others returned from service-some with diminished skills. How would they do? The answer came in two hotly fought pennant races that ended as Slaughter dashed home from first base to give the Cardinals the World Series. The Major Leagues were perplexed by a siren call to players from the Mexican League and the threat of a players' union. But Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier was the epochal event. Turner (A Border of Blue, LJ 1/93) offers a rousing tale, a fit companion to Robert W. Creamer's Baseball in '41 (LJ 2/15/91).-Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hospital Medical Lib., Tucson, Ariz.
Fifty years ago, baseball fans were anticipating the first postWorld War II season and the return to the game of such prewar stars as Ted Williams. Turner's history of that epochal year not only relates the often-inspirational, on-field triumphs of the returnees but also looks at larger questions: Would major-league baseball, like other businesses, be required to hire recently discharged black veterans, or was the game exempt from this rule as it was from so many others? Was a player who had been in the service three years a free agent? Turner also examines the personal stories: returning players had to cope with housing and transportation shortages along with the rest of the citizenry, yet many of them were forced to accept their prewar salaries. Much of the research for this book was done through first-person interviews, and the result is a richly detailed, very entertaining account of the reinvigoration of an American tradition.
A fresh perspective on the season when premier players such as Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, and Bob Feller returned from WW II.
Against the backdrop of the Nuremberg trials and a nation awash in the uncertainties of a postwar economy, spring training was a welcome diversion. In all, 500 major leaguers had served in the armed forces; Turner (The Culture of Hope, 1995, etc.) focuses on players from the pennant-winning Red Sox and Cardinals but also examines the return of DiMaggio, who'd been gone since 1942, and Feller, who had missed almost four full seasons. Some players, such as Musial, had it relatively easy during the war. Teammate Harry Walker, on the other hand, contracted spinal meningitis while at Ft. Riley, saw intense combat in Germany, and was a much-decorated veteran. As Turner follows the pennant races, he takes a look at the blossoming of rookies such as the Pirates' Ralph Kiner and the sad case of the Senators' Cecil Travis, a shortstop who had batted .359 in 1941 but who was unable to overcome frostbitten feet and four years of military life. In recounting the final days of the pennant races and the World Series, the author pays particular attention to the contributions made by the returning veterans and the impact they made on their teams' fortunes. Feller, whose Indians were out of it, finished with an astonishing 348 strikeouts in 371 innings, 10 shutouts, and a no-hitter. DiMaggio, injured early on, had, for him, a so-so season. The Cardinals, stacked with returning stars, defeated the Red Sox in the World Series on Enos Slaughter's famed "Mad Dash" from first base on a single off the bat of Harry Walker.
Turner's writing could be livelier, but baseball fans will enjoy this account of a unique season.