Wait Till Next Year

Wait Till Next Year

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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By the award-winning author of Team of Rivals and The Bully Pulpit, Wait Till Next Year is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s touching memoir of growing up in love with her family and baseball.

Set in the suburbs of New York in the 1950s, Wait Till Next Year re-creates the postwar era, when the corner store was a place to share stories and neighborhoods were equally divided between Dodger, Giant, and Yankee fans.

We meet the people who most influenced Goodwin’s early life: her mother, who taught her the joy of books but whose debilitating illness left her housebound: and her father, who taught her the joy of baseball and to root for the Dodgers of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and Gil Hodges. Most important, Goodwin describes with eloquence how the Dodgers’ leaving Brooklyn in 1957, and the death of her mother soon after, marked both the end of an era and, for her, the end of childhood.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439188583
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/24/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 88,943
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. She earned the Lincoln Prize for the runaway bestseller Team of Rivals, the basis for Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award–winning film Lincoln, and the Carnegie Medal for The Bully Pulpit, the New York Times bestselling chronicle of the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts. Visit her at DorisKearnsGoodwin.com or @DorisKGoodwin.


Concord, MA

Date of Birth:

January 4, 1943

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, NY


B. A., Colby College; Ph.D., Harvard University

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One

When I was six, my father gave me a bright red scorebook that opened my heart to the game of baseball. After dinner on long summer nights, he would sit beside me in our small enclosed porch to hear my account of that day's Brooklyn Dodger game. Night after night he taught me the odd collection of symbols, numbers, and letters that enable a baseball lover to record every action of the game. Our score sheets had blank boxes in which we could draw our own slanted lines in the form of a diamond as we followed players around the bases. Wherever the baserunner's progress stopped, the line stopped. He instructed me to fill in the unused boxes at the end of each inning with an elaborate checkerboard design which made it absolutely clear who had been the last to bat and who would lead off the next inning. By the time I had mastered the art of scorekeeping, a lasting bond had been forged among my father, baseball, and me.

All through the summer of 1949, my first summer as a fan, I spent my afternoons sitting cross-legged before the squat Philco radio which stood as a permanent fixture on our porch in Rockville Centre, on the South Shore of Long Island, New York. With my scorebook spread before me, I attended Dodger games through the courtly voice of Dodger announcer Red Barber. As he announced the lineup, I carefully printed each player's name in a column on the left side of my sheet. Then, using the standard system my father had taught me, which assigned a number to each position in the field, starting with a "1" for the pitcher and ending with a "9" for the right fielder, I recorded every play. I found it difficult at times to sit still. As the Dodgers came to bat, I would walk around the room, talking to the players as if they were standing in front of me. At critical junctures, I tried to make a bargain, whispering and cajoling while Pee Wee Reese or Duke Snider stepped into the batter's box. "Please, please, get a hit. If you get a hit now, I'll make my bed every day for a week." Sometimes, when the score was close and the opposing team at bat with men on base, I was too agitated to listen. Asking my mother to keep notes, I left the house for a walk around the block, hoping that when I returned the enemy threat would be over, and once again we'd be up at bat. Mostly, however, I stayed at my post, diligently recording each inning so that, when my father returned from his job as bank examiner for the State of New York, I could re-create for him the game he had missed.

When my father came home from the city, he would change from his three-piece suit into long pants and a short-sleeved sport shirt, and come downstairs for the ritual Manhattan cocktail with my mother. Then my parents would summon me for dinner from my play on the street outside our house. All through dinner I had to restrain myself from telling him about the day's game, waiting for the special time to come when we would sit together on the couch, my scorebook on my lap.

"Well, did anything interesting happen today?" he would begin. And even before the daily question was completed I had eagerly launched into my narrative of every play, and almost every pitch, of that afternoon's contest. It never crossed my mind to wonder if, at the close of a day's work, he might find my lengthy account the least bit tedious. For there was mastery as well as pleasure in our nightly ritual. Through my knowledge, I commanded my father's undivided attention, the sign of his love. It would instill in me an early awareness of the power of narrative, which would introduce a lifetime of storytelling, fueled by the naive confidence that others would find me as entertaining as my father did.

Michael Francis Aloysius Kearns, my father, was a short man who appeared much larger on account of his erect bearing, broad chest, and thick neck. He had a ruddy Irish complexion, and his green eyes flashed with humor and vitality. When he smiled his entire face was transformed, radiating enthusiasm and friendliness. He called me "Bubbles," a pet name he had chosen, he told me, because I seemed to enjoy so many things. Anxious to confirm his description, I refused to let my enthusiasm wane, even when I grew tired or grumpy. Thus excitement about things became a habit, a part of my personality, and the expectation that I should enjoy new experiences often engendered the enjoyment itself.

These nightly recountings of the Dodgers' progress provided my first lessons in the narrative art. From the scorebook, with its tight squares of neatly arranged symbols, I could unfold the tale of an entire game and tell a story that seemed to last almost as long as the game itself. At first, I was unable to resist the temptation to skip ahead to an important play in later innings. At times, I grew so excited about a Dodger victory that I blurted out the final score before I had hardly begun. But as I became more experienced in my storytelling, I learned to build a dramatic story with a beginning, middle, and end. Slowly, I learned that if I could recount the game, one batter at a time, inning by inning, without divulging the outcome, I could keep the suspense and my father's interest alive until the very last pitch. Sometimes I pretended that I was the great Red Barber himself, allowing my voice to swell when reporting a home run, quieting to a whisper when the action grew tense, injecting tidbits about the players into my reports. At critical moments, I would jump from the couch to illustrate a ball that turned foul at the last moment or a dropped fly that was scored as an error.

"How many hits did Roy Campanella get?" my dad would ask. Tracing my finger across the horizontal line that represented Campanella's at bats that day, I would count. "One, two, three. Three hits, a single, a double, and another single." "How many strikeouts for Don Newcombe?" It was easy. I would count the Ks. "One, two . . . eight. He had eight strikeouts." Then he'd ask me more subtle questions about different plays — whether a strikeout was called or swinging, whether the double play was around the horn, whether the single that won the game was hit to left or right. If I had scored carefully, using the elaborate system he had taught me, I would know the answers. My father pointed to the second inning, where Jackie Robinson had hit a single and then stolen second. There was excitement in his voice. "See, it's all here. While Robinson was dancing off second, he rattled the pitcher so badly that the next two guys walked to load the bases. That's the impact Robinson makes, game after game. Isn't he something?" His smile at such moments inspired me to take my responsibility seriously.

Sometimes, a particular play would trigger in my father a memory of a similar situation in a game when he was young, and he would tell me stories about the Dodgers when he was a boy growing up in Brooklyn. His vivid tales featured strange heroes such as Casey Stengel, Zack Wheat, and Jimmy Johnston. Though it was hard at first to imagine that the Casey Stengel I knew, the manager of the Yankees, with his colorful language and hilarious antics, was the same man as the Dodger outfielder who hit an inside-the-park home run at the first game ever played at Ebbets Field, my father so skillfully stitched together the past and the present that I felt as if I were living in different time zones. If I closed my eyes, I imagined I was at Ebbets Field in the 1920s for that celebrated game when Dodger right fielder Babe Herman hit a double with the bases loaded, and through a series of mishaps on the base paths, three Dodgers ended up at third base at the same time. And I was sitting by my father's side, five years before I was born, when the lights were turned on for the first time at Ebbets Field, the crowd gasping and then cheering as the summer night was transformed into startling day.

Copyright ©1997 by Blithedale Productions, Inc.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Discussion Points

  1. Like millions of Americans, Doris was caught up in the glory days of baseball in the 1950s, exhilarated by the Dodgers' victories, and pained by each and every loss. Individual players became her heroes, as well-loved and respected as family and friends. How important is it for people — particularly children — to have such heroes to look up to? How can we feel such a strong kinship to people we have never met? Are sports figures the best role models? What lessons can athletes teach us about life?
  2. Doris's parents each pass on their own special gifts to their daughter. Through baseball, Mr. Kearns teaches Doris the importance of telling a story slowly, building the drama to a powerful crescendo. Through reading, Mrs. Kearns demonstrates the beauty of a well-chosen word, and how a good book can take you away to places you might otherwise never go. Discuss how these gifts complement one another and how they came together to make Doris the historian and wordsmith she is today.
  3. In the 1950s, most fathers did not take their little girls to baseball games. How did you respond to the female point of view in this book? Did you see Doris as the son her father never had? Or was she an extension of his sister, Marguerite? What does Mr. Kearns' relationship with Doris provide that he missed during his tragic childhood?
  4. Although her childhood was marked by the untimely death of her mother, Doris paints a near-perfect picture of life in the suburbs. How does time affect our memories? Is it natural to "revise" our own personal history? Are we destined to recall the best times of our lives as rosier than they actually were?
  5. Idolizing her team as only a child can, Doris was fortunate enough to have her childhood coincide with baseball's most glorious heyday. Discuss the sport's changing role in the American landscape through the second half of the 20th Century. Does regional team loyalty still mean the same thing in today's "global village," or has the technology that has made our country seem smaller altered the notion of the "home team?" What does baseball offer that other sports cannot? Is it still our true national pastime?
  6. One of the most pleasant aspects of reading a well-written memoir is that it often helps you recall dim memories of your own. Did Wait Till Next Year spark any forgotten memories from your childhood? Did it remind you of special moments you shared with your parents, of family traditions that you enjoyed? Did this book inspire you to write down any of your own history to share with family members in years to come?
  7. Doris says that her "early years were happily governed by the dual calendars of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Catholic Church." In fact, Doris's careful calculations of baseball scores and batting averages charmingly mirror the manner in which she tallies up her nightly prayers. Discuss the mingled roles of baseball and religion in Doris's childhood. Was baseball a kind of secular worship for her? How are these different institutions similar to one another? What does each offer that the other does not?
  8. Prior to television, Doris listens to baseball games on the radio, relying on her imagination for visual images to accompany the announcer's play-by-play. This changed when the Kearnses bought their first television set and Doris was able to watch the games in the comfort of her own home. How did the addition of television change the face of baseball for Doris and other fans? How did it add to her enjoyment of the game? What did it take away?
  9. When Doris's sister, Jeanne, is selected co-captain of the "Blue Team" in a girls' athletic competition, Doris is able to witness first-hand the unification that results from competition. Jeanne serves as a role model for Doris, teaching her that sportsmanship and competition are not limited to the world of men. But these types of events for women were rare in the 1950s. What does this say about the culture of that time? Discuss the importance of women's sports and how our society's views on women's athletics have changed. Have they changed enough? What do women miss when they are discouraged from participating in sports?
  10. The landscape of Doris's childhood remains intact through the first decade of her life, leaving her with a misguided notion that her world will never change. But by the time Doris reaches adolescence, everything that had seemed so permanent slowly begins to slip away. Longtime neighbors move, the Dodgers and the Giants leave New York, and, most important, Doris's mother passes away. How does Doris react to these changes? Has the strong foundation her loving parents provided during her early years prepared her for these sudden changes?
  11. An important rite of passage for all children is the moment that they first see their parents as real people, not the all-knowing figures they appear to be when we are very young. Childhood is never the same after you see a parent in a moment of weakness. How does Mrs. Kearns' illness force Doris to grow up more quickly? How does it affect her childhood, her relationships with her parents? Can you recall the events that made you realize that your parents were, just like you, infallible and human?
  12. In many ways, the Kearnses are a traditional, nuclear family of the 1950s, with the father playing the role of a breadwinner and the mother keeping house. Yet, in many ways the Kearnses are quite progressive, teaching their daughters to reach as high as they can to fulfill their dreams. How is Doris different from the other girls on her block? Does her independence and faith in her abilities have its roots in her love of baseball?
  13. Doris pays tribute to many of her female teachers in junior high and high school. Many of these women rose to the top of their field during World War II — and then refused to "go back home" when the war was over. Did you have any teachers who stand out in your mind as particularly inspiring? Share your own recollections of an important educator who encouraged you to be your best.
  14. Doris stands out as a child not only for her ability to realize when she is observing history-in-the-making, but for her ability to see herself as part of it. Is this the result of her early love of reading, where she actually inserted herself into the action of the stories she read? How does baseball play a role?
  15. One of the most memorable scenes in Wait Till Next Year is when Doris and her young friends imitate the McCarthy hearings which have captivated the nation. What begins as fun and games ironically have the same result as the real hearings, driving neighborhood kids apart and provoking mean-spirited attacks. Discuss other important life lessons Doris learns through current events, such as the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs, the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. How does her interest in these events prepare her for her role as an historian?

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Wait Till Next Year 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
MargieM1 More than 1 year ago
I too was the youngest of three children, and I love Baseball as much as I revear Doris Kearns Goodwin. Not as fortunate as she, I lost my family to divorace at age 11 ( a gem that I never recovered). Baseball always connected my absent father and myself creating what memories I have of him. I was delighted to learn about her and that her memories of childhood ; her neighborhood friends, the catholic church (and its' structure) , the importance of community, and baseball resulted in so much of who we all see when she is on television shows. Her Father gave her the gift of the rules of Baseball game scoring, and her Church gave her the gift of knowing right from wrong. Her friends added dimension and her community gave her the gift of acceptance and understanding of differing views. We are all so lucky that she shares these gifts with us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't put off reading a truly delightful, moving, and entertaining book. Doris Kearns Goodwin brings back memories of childhood that makes me think she lived my childhood, except I was a Yankees fan. This is laugh out loud funny, covering A-bombs, fall out shelters, family and friends, and baseball, Brooklyn Dodger baseball. You don't have to be a baseball fan to love this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Wait Till Next Year' was my required summer reading book. I'm not intrested in reading, but once I began the book I couldn't put it down. Being a teenage girl and loving baseball, I could relate SOOO much to the book. This would be a great book for those die hard baseball fans!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story of life in the late 40's and 50's. Once you start reading, it's hard to put down.
ShadyKay More than 1 year ago
I didn't grow up with baseball as part of my life, but after reading this book, I wish I had. Doris lived a magical childhood peppered with some harrowing times. Thank you, Doris, for this wonderful story.
DDriver More than 1 year ago
Wait Till Next Year is a very unconventional book. Doris Kearns Goodwin recreates her past in the post-war error by framing it in the context of both family and baseball. It is a great book from start to finish.
SarahMcClurg More than 1 year ago
Wait 'Till Next Year is a very well written memoir. It is interesting to hear about baseball (and the love of the game) from a female prospective. But, Doris Kearns Goodwin does a fantastic job capturing the sport and its meaning to her growing up. Highly recommended.
BooksonBaseball More than 1 year ago
I have seen Presedential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin appear many times on TV political talk shows. I have also heard her speak on several occasions about her love for the Brooklyn Dodgers. You can imagine mydelight when I came across a copy of her 1997 book Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir at a used book sale. A favorite topic of mine--The Brooklyn Dodgers-- by a favorite writer. This memoir recounts Doris' childhood in the 40s and 50s in Brooklyn and later in Rockville Center, NY. Goodwin uses the season-to-season rhythms of baseball to create the arch of her formative years. She uses this baseball canvass to weave several distinct plot lines, involving family, community, catholicism, and world events. The book is about baseball, but baseball is not its central theme, far from it. Doris has nothing but wonderful memories of her parents; each somewhat flawed, her mother dying at the age of 51 and being sick for most of Doris¡¯ early life. Her father had experienced the death of two siblings and both parents, the last from suicide as a boy and was shipped off to a foster home. Neither parents' situation seemed to negatively impact Doris' relationship with her parents. On the contrary, it helped broaden her appreciation of her parents; an unusual trait for a youngster. Doris grew up the youngest of three sisters by a number of years which thrust her into adult-type conversations. This experience gave her the traits of inquisitiveness and precociousness. This familial experience also seemed to have left her with an indomitably positive person¨Ca trait which comes across throughout her book. Even during the apparent idyllic time of the 50s, many unsettling historical events took place, the polio epidemic, McCarthyism, Little Rock School integration, and nuclear air raid drills being among them. Doris writes about both the Dodgers and the Giants leaving New York city for the West Coast and uses that incident to talk about how the old neighborhood had changed as well, many families moved out to further their careers and status in life as well as the demise of the corner drug store and local butcher shop--both closed down. It seems the end of her childhood perfectly coincided with this dramatic move of two of NYC's homegrown treasures and the disappearance of her beloved neighborhood. Wait contains many wonderful stories from her childhood. --How she and best friend Elaine shared a blanket during the Summer with dueling radios, Doris¡¯ with Red Barber announcing for the Dodgers while Elaine's radio was tuned to Mel Allen broadcasting for the arch enemies, the Yankees. --Doris had a running friendly rivalry with a local butcher shop who owners were rabid fans of the Giants. After Bobby Thomson's historic home run in 1951, Doris couldn¡¯t get herself to visit the butcher shop until they sent her a bouquet of flowers. --How Doris was nervous during her first Catholic confession because she had to admit to the Priest that she wished ill of the opposing teams' players.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being both a baseball and Doris Kearns Goodwin fan, I greatly enjoyed this memoir. If you like reading history: 1940-50's, family, neighborhood connections, and BASEBALL, this is the book. It is entertaining and for others like me, it leads to research about experiences and incidents mentioned in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book as I grew up in NJ in this time period & can relate to so many things. Well written & very enjoyable. Loved knowing this was a true story. Finally someone who remembers the Dugan man. Found this family's story to be so real & heartfelt. Their love of baseball tied this family & friends together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually recently purchased this book for a gift. I have my own copy, but love this one so much that I like to share it. If you love baseball and you were a kid --- this book will be one of your favorites, too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Daddy and the Dodgers - what a combination, especially in the all-too-capable hands of Doris Kearns Goodwin. What differentiates this book most from others in the genre is the way in which we also see the emergence of the historian, and the ways in which her upbringing brought out her gift in the area. Wonderful book, not at all sappy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wait Till Next Year is a touching and humorous memoir of life as both a Dodger fan and a young girl in the 1950s. I'm not a huge fan of baseball, but Goodwin's enthusiasm for the game is compelling. I especially love her touching tales of Robinson, Reese, and Labine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is simply something magical about this extremely touching and wonderfully readable memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Poignant, entertaining, insightful and informative, this is a refreshing retrospective look into our country in the 1950's and the world of a young girl...a world primarily comprised - as she sees it - of those seemingly endless 'Summer Afternoons with [Her] Father and Baseball.' For those of us born into the 'great' technological boom which has effectively engulfed (and I might also argue smothered) American pop 'culture,' the profoundly simple life which Ms. Goodwin depicts in her autobiography is one that I find really fascinating. I also found enormous historical value among Ms. Goodwin's anecdotal recollections; her story is not confined to her personal life and the family and friends who played a part in it. Her memories and perceptions of historical and societal happenings of her day are abundant throughout the memoir. The reader is presented with McCarthyism, for example, through the eyes of a ten year old, and the great Commuter Train crash of 1950 related by a little girl who believed her father might have been in it. These are invaluable historical accounts, offering us wonderfully original and exciting perspectives. And then, of course, there is the phenonemon from which the book gets its title: the Brooklyn Dodgers not quite ever winning the World Series... In 'Wait Till Next Year, ' Ms. Goodwin offers us an enchanting glimpse back into and era that can only be labelled as golden. Historically comprehensive, extremely enjoyable, and a charming piece of Americana, this memoir ranks near the top of my all-time favorite reads. **I would also like to add a brief note regarding the book's author, Doris Kearns Goodwin. Having read her work and seen her speak in person, I find her to be someone worthy of every American's utmost respect and admiration. She is most definitely a woman of extremely impressive intelligence and capability - as well as inherent dignity - and we are very fortunate to have her accomplishments documented in her books, from which we can all learn so much.**
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a WONDERFUL read!!! I absolutely LOVED this book. Ms. Goodwin tells a wonderful story of her childhood in Brooklyn during the 50's. The initial plot line is about the Brooklyn Dodgers, Goodwin's favorite team, as she roots for the hero's of her time. Though, this book is about so much more: her families relationship, her friends, growing up, and most of all change. What a wonderful description of suburban New York during a wonderful time in history.
KApplebaum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of a young girl's love of baseball, by a master storyteller.
mypinktoes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A gift from my husband. Wonderfully readable and engaging.
TakeItOrLeaveIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this when I was 13-14. I loved it then.
jimmytico More than 1 year ago
A very sweet and so well-written nostalgic story of a young girl, her family and the passion of loving their baseball team woven throughout. Very enjoyable read. Thank you Doris!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Doris's family and her love for the Dodgers when they were in Brooklyn. Her childhood reminded me a lot about my childhood growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s. We were Oriole fans. My dad took me to Memorial Stadium which was built in 1954. I saw a lot of Hall of Fame players as Doris did. She saw Dodgers like Jackie Robinson and Roy Campenella play.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Memoir is well written and researched. Viewing life in a village in Brooklyn NY through the eyes of a child spans topics such as baseball, neighborhoods, family relationships and hardships, cultural changes such as the influence of that new invention television and upward mobility, McCarthyism, the threat of atom bomb annihilation, and more. Kearns again creates a well drawn picture, this time of her own life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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bleacherbum99 More than 1 year ago
Great look at baseball in the 50s, and specifically the Brooklyn Dodgers. Doris Kearns Goodwins shows what is was like growing up rooting for a team that didn't win the big one--but then finally breaks through to win it. She shows how NY was split between the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees. Great book, written by one of the top writers ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago