Sometimes the best sports books are not really sports books, as is the case with David Halberstam’s brilliant “October 1964”, which tells the story of a changing America through the microcosm of two very different baseball teams.
Halberstam, one of the great living American writers, concentrates on events that occurred during tumultuous times. Halberstam examines the loser of the 1964 World Series, the New York Yankees, who represent the old America, and the winners, the St. Louis Cardinals, who represent the new.
The Yankees were the Republican Party, conservative, white, country club elite, old money, Wall Street, the status quo, featuring Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford. Their style of play was to not take chances, and they only had a couple black players.
The Cardinals mirrored Berkeley rabble rousers, and they played “National League baseball”--aggressive, stealing bases, stretching singles into doubles. Bob Gibson—black, college-educated, a man’s man with something to prove, was their undisputed leader. Curt Flood was another thoughtful black athlete who harbored quiet resentment over his treatment by rednecks in Southern minor league towns. Tim McCarver came from a well-to-do white family in Memphis that employed black servants, his only frame of reference, until Gibson asked to take a sip from his coke. McCarver hesitatingly handed Gibby the can, Gibby took a big old honkin’ Samuel L. Jackson sip, flashed the kid a giant smile, and handed the can back. McCarver’s lesson: Sharing with black’s is just like sharing with whites.
Halberstam details the metaphor of these two clubs, in which the Yankees would fall from their lofty perch, only to rise once they changed their ways in accordance with the world around them, mirroring the Reagan Revolution. The Cardinals would win three pennants in the ‘60s, Gibson ascending to Hall of Fame status, while McCarver grew up to be the modicum of tolerance. Flood became the symbol of the union movement with a fall-on-his-sword lawsuit challenging the reserve clause, opening the door to freedom and riches for numerous players.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism