BASEBALL FATHERS, BASEBALL SONS by Dick Wimmer

BASEBALL FATHERS, BASEBALL SONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Easy-going, nostalgic, finally unsatisfying chats with baseball heroes about their roles as fathers and sons, by a TV movie writer (The Million Dollar Infield). Wimmer, a longtime baseball fan, had the clever idea of taking his two sons along with him as he conducted his research. This allows him to intercut remarks by the stars with reflections on his own role as father and son--a device that adds some profundity to an otherwise shallow (if diverting) investigation. Older readers will get a charge out of remeeting childhood gods--Ted Williams looking ""leathery, weather-beaten handsome""; Sandy Koufax, ""gracious and refined,"" like ""a valedictorian spending some spare time with sports""; Joe DiMaggio, ""so controlled he seemed to be locked in a display case."" These brilliant thumbnail sketches highlight the book; when the players open their mouths, it's mostly clichÉs and soap opera, instantly forgettable. We do learn that about 40% of players had absentee fathers, another 40% demanding fathers--is lovelessness a prerequisite for the diamond? Current stars have their say, too--Mike Schmidt, Jim Rice, Don Mattingly, George Brett among them. New York doesn't fare well: the Yankees come off as the nastiest team, Shea Stadium as the ugliest park (""a huge subway stop""). The book's warmest moments revolve around Wimmer's boys, especially one scene where Ted Williams gives them batting practice. But heart can't always compensate for lack of head. The unavoidable conclusion: the eternal triad of baseball-father-son, unfathomable, even holy, resists illumination by the casual remarks of professional jocks. For all its graceful prose, this one goes in the ""almost"" pile.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1988
Publisher: Morrow