The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

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Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky were all members of the famed 1940's Boston Red Sox. Their legendary careers led the Red Sox to a pennant championship and ensured the men a place in sports history.

David Halberstam, the bestselling author of the baseball classic Summer of '49, has followed the members of the 1949 championship Boston Red Sox team for years, especially Williams, Doerr, DiMaggio, and Pesky. In this extremely moving book, Halberstam reveals how these four teammates became friends, and how that friendship thrived for more than 60 years.

The book opens with Pesky and DiMaggio travelling to see the ailing Ted Williams in Florida. It's the last time they will see him. The journey is filled with nostalgia and memories, but seeing Ted is a shock. The most physically dominating of the four friends, Ted now weighs only 130 pounds and is hunched over in a wheelchair. Dom, without even thinking about it, starts to sing opera and old songs like "Me and My Shadow" to his friend.

Filled with stories of their glory days with the Boston Red Sox, memories of legendary plays and players, and the reaction of the remaining three to Ted Williams' recent death, The Teammates offers us a rare glimpse into the lives of these celebrated men -- and great insight into the nature of loyalty and friendship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401397470
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication date: 05/28/2003
Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 hours
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.96(h) x 1.07(d)
Age Range: 13 Years

About the Author

David Halberstam (1934-2007) was the author of twenty-two books, including fifteen bestsellers. Born in New York City, Halberstam spent much of the 1960s as a reporter for The New York Times, covering the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. His Vietnam reporting earned him both a George C. Polk Award and a 1964 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. Vanity Fair dubbed Halberstam "the Moses of American journalism," and the subjects of his books reflect his passion and range: war, foreign policy, history, and sports. The Best and the Brightest (1962), his sixth book, a critique of the Kennedy administration's Vietnam policy, became a #1 bestseller. His next book, The Powers that Be, a study of four American media companies, was hailed by The New York Times as a "prodigy of research." Many of Halberstam's books explored themes in professional sports, including bestsellers The Teammates, a portrait of the friendship between baseball players Ted Williams, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr, and The Education of a Coach, a profile of New England Patriots' Coach Bill Belichick.

Jane Leavy is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Last Boy, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, and the comic novel Squeeze Play. She has written for many publications, including the New York Times, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. A native New Yorker, she attended Barnard College and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she wrote her master's thesis on a childhood hero, Red Smith, the late sports columnist for the New York Times; this was later published in essay form by the Village Voice. Leavy lives in Washington, DC, and Massachusetts.

Date of Birth:

April 10, 1934

Date of Death:

April 23, 2007

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

San Francisco, California


B.A., Harvard, 1955

Read an Excerpt

The Teammates

By David Halberstam

Hyperion Books

Copyright © 2003 David Halberstam
All right reserved.

ISBN: 140130057X

Chapter One

Ted was dying, and the idea for the final trip, driving down to Florida to see him one last time, was Dominic's. It was in early October 2001, and Dominic was not eager to get aboard a plane and fly to Florida so soon after the September 11 terrorist attack, and his wife, Emily, most decidedly did not like the idea of him driving there all by himself. "I just don't want you driving to Florida alone," she told him. "It's much too far." They had been having dinner at a restaurant in Marion, Massachusetts, with their friend Dick Flavin, a local television personality and humorist. Flavin's boyhood hero, a mere 55 years earlier, had been this same Dominic DiMaggio, then the centerfielder for the Red Sox. Half to herself Emily had added, "Can you imagine? An eighty-four-year-old man driving all the way to Florida by himself." It was said in a way that precluded any argument. "How about this?" Flavin suggested to Dom. "I'll go with you and share the driving." Dominic jumped at the offer and immediately signed on. That gained Emily DiMaggio's approval, something not lightly done. "I know what else, I'll call John," Dominic added, "and see if he'll come with us" John was Johnny Pesky, his and Ted's teammate for all those years, for whom trips to Florida were significantly harder to make.

Pesky loved the idea and he too quickly signed on, and in the way that these things are decided without being formally decided, it was agreed that Dominic and Dick would share the driving and John, 82, would sit in the backseat. As a kind of penance, Pesky agreed not to smoke his requisite two cigars a day. Bobby Doerr, the fourth teammate who had remained so close with the others, would not be able to make the trip. He lived injunction City, Oregon, and though he made occasional trips back East, usually to the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York, his ability to travel had been severely limited after Monica, his wife of 63 years, had suffered two strokes in 1999.

They had, the four of them - Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky - played together on the Red Sox teams of the 1940s; Williams and Doerr went back even further: They were teenagers together on the San Diego Padres, a minor league team in the mid-'30s, and played with Boston in the late '30s. All four were men of a certain generation, born right at the end of World War One within 31 months of each other - DiMaggio in 1917, Doerr and Williams in 1918, and Pesky in 1919. Doerr's middle name, in fact, was Pershing, after John "Black Jack" Pershing, the American general who had led the American troops in Europe in the Great War. On occasion, Doerr had been called Pershing by his teammates in the old days.

They were all four from the West Coast, and three of them, Doerr, DiMaggio, and Williams, started out in the Pacific Coast League, then a top minor league. The other three had encountered Pesky first not as a peer, an up-and-coming young short-stop with uncommon bat control who could hit to all fields, but instead as the boyish clubhouse attendant who worked in the locker room for the Portland Beavers in the PCL. It had been Johnny's job to wash the athletic clothing and shine the shoes of the visiting players, and the players tipped him 25 or 50 cents a game for the service. When Pesky was about to join the big club in Boston in 1942, after leading the American Association in hits in Louisville, the other three, all big leaguers by then, had joked about him: Yes, it was the same Johnny Pesky, you know the little guy who shined our shoes and washed our jocks back in Portland. Needle Nose, they eventually nicknamed him, because of his prominent nose. No one had liked using the name more than Ted, who seemed to think it made Pesky into the younger brother he had always wanted (instead of the younger brother he actually did have, Danny Williams, who was constantly in trouble with the law and thus a reminder to Ted of the fragility of his own hard-won position in life). Pesky's nose was indeed rather long and sharp, especially in relation to his body, which was rather small. The nickname might not have lasted a lifetime, had it not been for Ted, who used it so much that on occasion, when John called the others, he would identify himself simply by saying, "This is Needle."

They were all special men - smart, purposeful, hardworking - and they had seized on baseball as their one chance to get ahead in America. They had done exceptionally well in their chosen field. Williams and Doerr were in the Hall of Fame. Many of the players from that era were puzzled that DiMaggio and Pesky had not been eventually inducted by the old-timer's committee, which took a belated second look at who had made the Hall and who had not. That was particularly true in the case of Dominic DiMaggio, who had been an All Star seven times; Williams himself believed that it was a travesty that Dominic was not in the Hall. None of the four, most assuredly, had gotten rich off the game, not in the era they played in and not in the material sense, for the richness they had taken from the game was more subtle and complicated. A couple years ago Pesky and DiMaggio were together at the funeral of Elizabeth "Lib" Dooley, a beloved Red Sox rooter who was considered the team's foremost fan, having attended every home game from 1944 to 1999, and John had casually asked Dominic how much he had made in his best years. Forty thousand, Dominic answered, and then he asked John the same question. Twenty-two five, Pesky said.

They had after all grown up in a much poorer America when career expectations were considerably lower, when the people who went off to college were generally the people whose parents had gone off to college before them. Two of the four, DiMaggio and Pesky, were the children of immigrants. In DiMaggio's home, Italian was still spoken, and Pesky's real family name was Paveskovich, as his Croatian parents were still known, at least to themselves if not to the larger world. Williams had grown up in what was ostensibly a traditional Scotch-Irish home - what name could be more American than Williams? - but in fact his mother, unbeknownst to most of Ted's friends, was half Mexican.

That was the America that existed before the coming of the G.I. Bill and the postwar meritocracy, Which made it possible, seemingly overnight, for all kinds of bright, young Americans, who would never before have had the opportunity, to go to college. Dominic DiMaggio, it was true, had an offer of a college education - he had always done well academically - but he went to work instead. In the case of the other three, the one great chance to get ahead had come through baseball. Looking back through the lens of today's infinitely more affluent America, it seems hard to believe that their choices were so limited. Today it might have been quite different for them: Ted Williams, with his passion for excellence, his outrageous, almost belligerent intelligence, and the sheer force of his unyielding personality, might have become a brilliant brain surgeon; Dom DiMaggio might have ended up as the CEO of a major corporation; Bobby Doerr might have gone to a small college - he is a quiet man, and a big university would have been an uncomfortable experience for him - and stayed on to become, almost to his surprise, the dean, popular with both students and faculty; and Pesky might have become the baseball coach at a large university, where his teams always won, and where in time he was regarded as a legend.

Excerpted from The Teammates by David Halberstam Copyright © 2003 by David Halberstam
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Mrjohnnybuck More than 1 year ago
This book is such a treasure to me that I read it every year as Spring Training begins. Mr. Halberstam was such a gifted writer, and the subject matter that he works with here is truly interesting. It doesn't matter if you are not a baseball fan, the lifelong friendship between these four men is a great testimony, and the end will leave you not only with a tear in your eye, but longing for more. Truly one of my favorite books of all time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a thoroughly enjoying book to read and take me back to my boyhood days in Boston following every game and devouring the box scores. Learning about the origins of the friendships and how deep those friendships grew was inspiring. A must read for all old time Red Sox fans who fashion themselves among those who remember being so close to a pennant in the 50's but seemed to always see the Yankees as the ultimate nemesis.
zpf1111 More than 1 year ago
The Teammates was basically a documentary of four really great friends who had a love for the game of baseball. They all played professionally and that's how they met. They all were players for the Boston Red Sox. Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Dominic DiMaggio made up the group of friends. All had great talent but were never able to put together a Championship season. I thought the book was a little slow and kind of dragged on. It told mostly just stories of their playing days. Also how they continued their friendship past their playing days. It was great to see how players of such high status and can be humble and be such great friends even with the surrounding media. Also, it was interesting how they stayed very competitive while being good friends. Its pretty impressive how they remained friends for so long even after. Usually players sort of lose touch of their teammates once they retire and don't see each other everyday like they used too. They managed to keep in touch and get together for birthdays and celebrations like at the Hall of Fame Induction even until there really old age. I was mostly impressed about how Ted Williams was a true star not just out of the group but in the league. He was one of the best hitters of all time but he stayed humble and did not think he was better than any of his friends or teammates or even competitors. He just had a true love for playing the game. I don't know if I would recommend the book unless you had a true love for baseball or the history of the Red Sox. Most kids wouldn't enjoy it too much because its not too modern. Its very old school in a way.
1234CB More than 1 year ago
Author David Halberstam wrote about players from the Red Sox including Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky out. When Halberstam learned that in 2002 that Dom and Johnny took their last trip that to see Ted, he knew that he had a story. This book tells that tale. The book recognizes the backgrounds of all four players, details their friendships from the days when they were in the minor leagues through the end of their lives and provides lots of outlook on the Red Sox during the 1940s and 1950s when these remarkable players were on the team. The end of the book also has the lifetime stats for each player. One of the exciting parts of the book is how hard Ted Williams was on himself and his friends. It is a great tale of friendship to see how others would tolerate his abuse. Behind the friendships, you get many glimpses of great character, character that actually makes their athletic accomplishments seem outstanding. I strongly urge all Red Sox fans who want their children to develop better characters to read this book, and share the story with their friends and family. I know of no better book about athletes that looks at the qualities of true greatness. "Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer." Was said by Ted Williams. This quote symbolizes to the reader that baseball is a hard sport but it can be extremely easy if you concentrate on what you're doing at all times. This is how theses players in the book became so legendary. This quote can also be words to live by for some people. Its saying all you need to do in life is succeed most of the time, clearly people will encounter hardships but it is saying you will not succeed without failure at one point. I agree with the whole message of the book which is to follow your dreams and stay true to your friends. This book relates to some instances in my life where I may encounter hardship, but to back it up I always have my friends by my side to guide me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Halberstam does an exceptional job in capturing the essence of family, friendship, and baseball in America that transcends the 20th Century and matriculates into the 21st Century. Mr. Doerr, Mr. Pesky, Mr. Dimaggio and Mr. Williams are not only connected by a love for America's past time, but also by a love for each other. Mr. Halberstam does a fine job of illustrating this to the reader.
dvf1976 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a quick enjoyable listen.I liked the story about Ted Williams signing a baseball for a pitcher who struck him out with the ball.He then went on to hit a huge home run against the same pitcher. As he was rounding the bases he said:"If you can find it, I'll sign that son-of-a-bitch too!"
MikeD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great story of the man Ted Williams and his closest friends...Dom Dimaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I used to be a big Red Sox fan, before they became a self-pitying mob, engaged in some self-victimized group think. What a bunch of whiners. I loved the forties teams with Ted Williams, Bob Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio. This is their story, not as players, but as men in their twilight years. More importantly, it is the story of three great players who always lived under the hot light cast by Williams, perhaps the most brilliant, publicly annoying man that ever played the game (one of my baseball heroes, I might add,)and how they prepare for his approaching death. It is an affecting story, well told by David Halberstam.
ehines on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Surprisingly little on the years these guys played together on the Red Sox--what makes them of interest in the first place. But Halberstam manages to make us interested in these guys as men rather than players. I could easily have been disappointed, but I'm not. Though a few chapters on their glory years would have been to the good.
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
Rating:   5 of 5 stars (outstanding) Review: Inspired by a trip in 2002 by former Red Sox teammates Dominic DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky to visit their old teammate and friend Ted Williams, award winning author David Halberstam recounts these three teammates along with fellow Red Sox great Bobby Doerr as they maintained friendships well beyond their baseball playing days.    Halberstam displays his talents that won him a Pulitizer Prize as he takes each man’s stories and weaves them together in a collection that is at times inspiring, melancholy, uplifting and even humorous.  The reader will learn a lot about each man that wasn’t necessarily written by the sportswriters of the time when they were teammates on the Boston Red Sox.   Characteristics like Williams’ distance from his children, Doerr’s devotion to his wife Monica (he is unable to make the trip from Oregon because he is caring for her), Pesky’s willingness to be the “goat” of the famous 1946 World Series play in which Enos Slaughter raced home from first on a base hit that was scored as a single, and DiMaggio’s emergence as a player that stood on his own merit and not just that of his famous brother.  There is plenty of baseball in the book as well.  The best of these passages is Pesky’s recollection of the play in which Slaughter scored the winning run of game 6.  It is a very interesting take on the play, as it differs significantly than what is typically written.  Without giving away Pesky’s story, let’s just say that there were other events that took place or were embellished over time to give the play the romantic feel-good flavor it has today. While all four men have excellent stories and passages, I was moved by Halberstam’s writing about Doerr.  Everything about the man, from the wooing and courtship of his wife to his playing career and his life after baseball is captured in a manner that shows the tenderness and lack of selfishness that makes up the character of Bobby Doerr.  His story is one that will stick with the reader for a long time after closing the book. Halberstam has written several baseball books that have received well-deserved praise and “The Teammates” is one of them. This is a must-read for any baseball fan, young or old, who enjoys stories that show the human side of the players.    Did I skim? No.   Pace of the book:   The book is fairly short but reads very quickly as Halberstam gets each man to open up and reveal some very personal stories that they did not share with newspaper writers during their playing days.   Do I recommend?   Anyone who is inspired by accounts of friendship that has endured over many years, whether baseball fans or not, will be touched by this book.  I highly recommend for readers of baseball books, biographies or inspirational stories. 
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The novel Teammates is a non-fiction story of the lives of four special baseball players. The story is told on while John Pesky, Dick Flavin, and Bobby Doerr are traveling to go visit their dying friend Ted Williams one last time in his Florida home. During their ride from Boston, Booby and Johnny reminisce on great times that they along with Dominic DiMaggio, and Ted had had while they played baseball together. They finally reach Florida and they spend a couple of days with their old friend before he enviably passes away. The four teammates were a very tight knit group. Ted Williams was a stubborn baseball icon that was a perfectionist. He was a man that always knew the answer to anything and would always be ready to debate another on any topic. Johnny Pesky was the little guy out of the group. He was small in frame but he had a big heart and he would go toe to toe with Ted in a debate any day. Bobby Doerr was quiet guy who was very modest and kind. He is the kind of guy that would do anything for a friend. Dom DiMaggio was always in the shadow of his big brother Joe. He never let it get to him and he was a determined player and a great guy. He was little stubborn like Ted and the two bickered some times. "You can't argue with people about what they thought they saw even if they didn't see it." This quote by Johnny Pesky is a quote mainly about how to get along with Ted Williams. Ted is a man that loves to debate on everything. This quote lets the reader know that if you try to apply this quote with talking to Ted, one can avoid a debate or argument. Also this goes along with the theme of friendship. Pesky lived by this quote to deal with Ted and prevent fights with him. He wanted to preserve their friendship. Johnny also said this to teach Dom and Bobby this so they too could avoid fights. Sometimes it is not worth arguing with people when they are very stubborn. The main point in this book is friendship is the key to happiness. These four men became the closest of friends when they played for the Red Sox. Their love for each other was rare and it was unbreakable. I believe that friendships help humans lead a full and happy life. In this book, these friends made each other's lives better. Great friends are hard to come by, you are lucky if you have one in your lifetime you are lucky. These four men were very fortunate, and they knew it. I agree with every point this book has to offer and all of the ideas are very sensible and accurate.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Teammates is a non-fiction book written by Dave Halberstam. It is about four teammates Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Dominic DiMaggio, and Teddy Williams who played on the Boston Red Sox in the forties¿ and fifties¿. As the four men grow old Ted Williams becomes very sick. Dominic DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky go on a road trip from California to Florida to visit Ted for the last time. Bobby Doerr cannot visit because he has to take care of his sick wife. The theme of this book is friendship. This book has very deep ideas and thoughts, but there is too much written about their conversations in the car ride their then on other more important topics. Part of this book that could have been interpreted better is when all the four teammates served in World War 2. Many People don¿t realize how hard these men worked to build up their baseball franchise and then got drafted to the army. Some issues that this book brings up is friendship, trust, responsibility. These things were highly valued in society. But due to things changing these attributes are often forgotten. When they should be looked upon very highly. In the book Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky go to visit their beloved friend Ted Williams for last time. This is very emotional for Pesky and Dimaggio because Ted is going to die. I can relate to this because recently I visited my grandmother who is very old and sick. This was very emotional. My favorite part of the book is when they first see Ted. As I kept reading the pages I could feel and sense the warmth of their friendship. Another part of this book that I enjoyed was on the car ride there they were discussing their baseball days. Especially when they talk about the players that they feared most and their favorite players to face against. As they had conversations on the way there I could see how much these men loved and cherished the memories. .In this book I wish there would been more information about the teammates playing days. This book gave me many lessons about life. Trust is one of the most important things you can put in a person. That friendship cannot be overturned. The most important lesson is to never give up on yourself. Anyone can achieve great things and have successful lives. I recommend this book to anyone who likes inspirational stories that make you feel good inside.