An exploration and celebration of deep friendship under the cloak of a baseball book.
Other than starring in Yankee pinstripes, though not at the same time, Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry wouldn’t seem to have much in common. The Hall of Fame catcher from the Italian ghetto of St. Louis and the pitcher young enough to be his son, from the Cajun swamp country of Louisiana, might not even seem to speak the same language, unless that language was baseball. Yet baseball isn’t the focus of this book about the transgenerational bond forged by the two men, a story that germinated in a New York Times spring-training column written last year by Araton (When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks, 2011, etc.). It’s the story of a younger player and the idol who became his best friend. There is no talk of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, nor of salaries exponentially inflated since the two played. There is little about games that mattered, since much of the book concerns the spring training rituals that annually reunite the two. It’s also the story of two genuinely likable, admirable athletes, though the nuanced portrait of Berra is pricklier than the cuddly caricature so often depicted. He adheres strictly to routines, from a rigid schedule to his rotation of restaurants and the meals he orders there. Guidry understands Berra well enough to know when to poke fun at him and when to protect him from the attention he most certainly doesn’t crave. Other indelible characters play a part—including George Steinbrenner, whose alienation of Berra and reconciliation with him proved key in the lives of both—but this is mainly the story of two buddies and the sport over which they have bonded.
A well-told tale of friendship with baseball as the backdrop.