EPIC SEASON by David Kaiser


The 1948 American League Pennant Race
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paper 1-55849-147-3 A historian’s dispassionate and sometimes arcane approach takes the edge off of one of baseball’s most exciting years. WW II was over, and Americans were busy piecing together their peacetime lives. Nowhere was this so evident as in baseball, which by 1948 had fully reclaimed the social and cultural preeminence it had enjoyed before the war. Americans— rekindled passion for baseball was further enhanced by one of the most exciting American League pennant races of memory, a three-way knock-down-drag-out scrum involving the New York Yankees, the rejuvenated Boston Red Sox, and the upstart Cleveland Indians, culminating in an electrifying season-ending series between the Sox and the Indians. The problem with Kaiser’s (History/Naval War College) account isn’t in the details. After all, it’s a story that encompasses great events—a pennant playoff, the appearance of the American League’s first African-American (the Indians— Larry Doby), and the death of Babe Ruth—and is studded with such stars as the Indians— dynamic duo, Lou Boudreau and Bill Veeck; the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio; the Red Sox hero Ted Williams; and for added intrigue, the legendary manager Joe McCarthy, who prior to the season switched allegiances from the Yanks to the archrival Sox. The problem, then, lies in the telling. Kaiser does a creditable job of weaving first- and second-hand accounts into his chronicle of a furious season-long chase during which the eventual winner, Cleveland, never led by more than three and one-half games. The author’s undoing is that too often he turns to statistics, frequently using them not so much for illumination as for support. While the use of some statistics is certainly warranted, their overuse waters down the immediacy of a season widely remembered as one of baseball’s best. In the end, a book better suited to baseball historians than to casual fans of the game. (31 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55849-146-5
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1998


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