Read 56 joe dimaggio and the last magic number in sports by Kostya Kennedy Online


Seventy baseball seasons ago, on a May afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio lined a hard single to left field. It was the quiet beginning to the most resonant baseball achievement of all time. Starting that day, the vaunted Yankee center fielder kept on hitting-at least one hit in game after game after game.In the summer of 1941, as Nazi forces moved relentlessly acroSeventy baseball seasons ago, on a May afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio lined a hard single to left field. It was the quiet beginning to the most resonant baseball achievement of all time. Starting that day, the vaunted Yankee center fielder kept on hitting-at least one hit in game after game after game.In the summer of 1941, as Nazi forces moved relentlessly across Europe and young American men were drafted by the millions, it seemed only a matter of time before the U.S. went to war. The nation was apprehensive. Yet for two months in that tense summer, America was captivated by DiMaggio's astonishing hitting streak. In 56, Kostya Kennedy tells the remarkable story of how the streak found its way into countless lives, from the Italian kitchens of Newark to the playgrounds of Queens to the San Francisco streets of North Beach; from the Oval Office of FDR to the Upper West Side apartment where Joe's first wife, Dorothy, the movie starlet, was expecting a child. In this crisp, evocative narrative Joe DiMaggio emerges in a previously unseen light, a 26-year-old on the cusp of becoming an icon. He comes alive-a driven ballplayer, a mercurial star and a conflicted husband-as the tension and the scrutiny upon him build with each passing day.DiMaggio's achievement lives on as the greatest of sports records. Alongside the story of DiMaggio's dramatic quest, Kennedy deftly examines the peculiar nature of hitting streaks and with an incisive, modern-day perspective gets inside the number itself, as its sheer improbability heightens both the math and the magic of 56 games in a row....

Title : 56 joe dimaggio and the last magic number in sports
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ISBN : 10817204
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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56 joe dimaggio and the last magic number in sports Reviews

  • Don Hamilton
    2019-02-14 01:28

    A great read, especially this time of year when baseball fever hits. The most interesting aspect of the book was learning how the American people followed the incredible 56 game hitting streak while at the same time dealing with the very serious problems brewing over in Europe (Summer of 1941).

  • Joelwakefield
    2019-01-26 05:35

    A great baseball book, capturing nicely the day to day rhythm of the game, with the added element of an unlikely streak and the building pressure that the streak created. The book does a very nice job of juxtaposing the world events of 1941 on the baseball events, giving insight not only into the game but also into the feeling of a nation as the world slipped into war. I was particularly interested in the snapshots into individual games along the way - the game relatively early in the streak where the decision sat with the official scorer at Yankee stadium - was a ball that took a bad bounce a hit or an error? Or the two or three games where the manager allowed DiMaggio to swing away on 3-0 counts, allowing him to get another hit in the streak. The one or two games where they went against standard baseball strategy to give the streak a chance. The 22 yr old pitcher who defied his manager's orders to walk DiMaggio to break the streak - and of course DiMaggio came through. And how close his last at bat was to being a hit, which could have lead the streak to be 73, as he promptly went on another 18 game streak. Through it all, incidentally, Joe DiMaggio remained pretty enigmatic, I know more about what he did and how he acted, but not much about what he thought But that's not the book, it was him. This is one book where I did have a concrete thought about what would have made the book better. The edition I had printed the title on the side in the margin in a very opaque font. Rather than that, however, or perhaps in addition to that, I would have loved for them to have printed the number that represented where he was in the streak on each page. I think that is a little gimmick that would have added to the tension as the book wore on, letting you know where he was and how many he still had to go.

  • Gary Geiger
    2019-01-28 00:17

    Joe DiMaggio probably wasn't the Greatest Living Ballplayer when that vote was taken in 1969. A better case can be made for Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, or Willie Mays. If you are going by career numbers as opposed to a player at his peak, you can add Stan Musial to that group. But you can make the argument that DiMaggio was better than his numbers for intangible reasons (I don't buy this argument,) or that he would have been better in another era or another park.That doesn't mean that he wasn't great. And his streak was one of the biggest baseball stories of the last century. Kostya Kennedy's book is less a biography of DiMaggio, and more of a look at that streak as the US was on the cusp of entering World War II.Uneven. When Kennedy stuck to baseball and DiMaggio's hitting streak, it flowed well. But when he digressed about the outside world, the passages were often flat and I skimmed them. One thing struck me as odd. Kennedy mentions a young Gay Talese following the streak, yet he fails to mention Talese's famous article on a post-baseball DiMaggio. “The Silent Season of the Hero” was one of the early exemplars of New Journalism.

  • Ben
    2019-02-04 22:25

    Sports records and streaks no longer captivate the country the way they once did. For one reason, performance enhancing drugs have both tainted their mystique and increased the frequency of their being broken. One wonders whether the recordbooks of the future will have multiple asterisks next to every entry. But Joe DiMaggio's streak in 1941 of 56 consecutive games with at least one hit will likely stand forever. It also came at precisely the time when our worried nation needed a distraction from the looming war and a cause to rally around American exceptionalism.Kennedy's book succeeds on a number of levels. It digs into DiMaggio's personality and character, provides glimpses into the lives of his teammates, previous record holders, and future record chasers (e.g., Gehrig, Sisler, and Rose), and shows just how fervently the American public followed the details of Joe's magical streak. Kennedy even crunches the numbers at the end to illustrate how improbable the streak was and why it will almost certainly never be toppled. (But of course, we should never say never in sports.)

  • Dave
    2019-02-08 23:29

    If it weren't for Cleveland's 3rd baseman playing DiMaggio to pull this book may have been titled "73". Kennedy, despite more than a few grammar problems with words left out of sentences and a bit too much talk of the kids imitating the Yankee Clipper in NYC stickball games, does a good job discussing the 56 game hitting streak and its historical and statistical context. By any numerical analysis, it's a complete aberration. No one else has come within 12 games. However, when you factor in that DiMaggio hit in 61 consecutive games in the minors it seems that he was uniquely suited to put something together like this, as the Yankees looked for their 5th title in 6 years, and as Ted Williams hit .406, Lou Gehrig passed away, and young men all over the country were being drafted as the U.S. entering WWII became an inevitability.

  • Bruce
    2019-02-12 00:36

    I enjoyed the book. It very effectively details one of the incredible athletic achievements of our time, and does so against the backdrop of pre-WWII United States. This seems to be the definitive treatment of "the streak," and the author's details, research and writing style serve the book very effectively. I found myself fascinated by the differences and (yes) similarities between the ball players of 1941 and those of today. This is a great baseball book that fully describes the record "that will never be broken."

  • Don Gorman
    2019-01-25 04:11

    (2). This is almost a 4 star baseball book, but for general reading it certainly doesn't rate that well. The DiMaggio story is fascinating, but there is so much lost in the correlations and development of the war effort, his relationship with his wife and his unique idiosyncrasies outside of baseball. I'm glad I read it, as the details on the hit streak were terrific, but Joe will remain a sort of neurotic weirdo in my mind regardless of his amazing prowress on the diamond. The analysis of data and probabilities in the last 30 or so pages were just downright boring.

  • Karen & Gerard
    2019-01-29 23:29

    As a rule, I do not read a lot of sports books because I find most of them to be boring. However, this book covers the 56-game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio but it's more than just a game-by-game recap. The author really sets the scene of life in 1941. I enjoyed this book a lot! It took me just two days to read it. Even though I hate the Yankees, I loved "56—Joe DiMaggio And The Last Magic Number In Sports." If you are a baseball fan, I think you will love this one too!

  • Jim
    2019-02-13 23:20

    This book is about Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak that encompassed games played between May 15th and July 16th, 1941. Between those dates Joe DiMaggio got at least one hit in every game, a record no one has even come close to breaking since.Everything in this work uses “the streak” as its anchor point. If you keep that in mind you won’t be disappointed at not getting a fuller biography of Joe DiMaggio, or salacious details of his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, or a wider discussion of baseball in the 1940s, or of the Yankees 1941 season, or of issues surrounding the impending WWII. You will get some of all of that, but only as it relates to “the streak.”I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Kennedy’s goal is to place “the streak” in the context of what was happening in the country at this time, how it affected the mood of the country, how it affected Joe DiMaggio himself, and how it influenced baseball and the wider culture in later years. In this he does a good job.Kennedy sprinkles his book with a number of vignettes that he uses to illustrate the feeling around the country as DiMaggio approached George Sisler’s record of 41 straight games with at least one hit. He makes very good use of writings by well known personalities such as Mario Cuomo and Gay Talese, newspaper accounts, newsreel footage, and later interviews to paint an overall portrait of the country as it grew increasingly obsessed with DiMaggio’s streak. My only complaint here is that sometimes he would place these vignettes in such a way as to ruin the momentum of a previous narrative. A couple of times I was really getting into his description of a particular game for example, and just as he was getting to the climax of the narrative, he would divert to another related story. I have to admit it kind of ticked me off a bit. :)While the book is not meant to be a definitive biography of Joe DiMaggio, he does go into those details that impact his reaction to “the streak,” and which help explain his reactions as it grew longer. These were fascinating and left me wanting more. There are a couple of excellent DiMaggio biographies that I will probably add to my “bucket list” now that I have read this book.Kennedy also does a good job recounting DiMaggio’s relationship with his first wife, actress Dorothy Arnold, and how “the streak” affected their relationship and may have helped hasten their eventual divorce. Sections describing how DiMaggio lived his day to day life in New York – where he ate, where he got his hair cut, and who he befriended – were also very engaging. DiMaggio found comfort and familiarity among New York’s Italian population which made it easier for him to withstand the pressure of being a New York Yankee.My favorite parts of the book were Kennedy’s description of the games themselves, and the biographical details of other players that affected, or were affected by, “the streak.” As a sports writer he has a particular talent for placing you in that place and time. But again, the interrupting vignettes tended to stop the momentum of these passages. I wish there had either been less of these, or they had been placed differently. I also liked the ancillary biographies of some of the other players that played a role in ”the streak” including George Sisler who held the modern day record before DiMaggio, “Wee Willy” Keeler who held the all time record, Lou Gehrig who mentored DiMaggio and whose death during the season had a big impact on him, DiMaggio’s brother Dom DiMaggio, a very good player himself, and Ted Williams who was the other big story of that season as he strived to bat over .400. He was successful and is still the last player to do so. All of this was deftly handled. I found myself on numerous occasions interrupting my reading to look these folks up on Wikipedia and then noting if any biographies were available on their lives.Kennedy also devoted a whole chapter on Pete Rose, who in 1978 came closer to DiMaggio’s streak than any player since 1941. In that year Rose hit in 44 straight games, breaking or tying every record previous to DiMaggio’s. It is very clear from the narrative that Kennedy is a fan of Rose, and I have to confess it convinced me to change my opinion on Rose’s banning from baseball. I now think it should be lifted. A topic for another time…perhaps after reading Kennedy’s biography of Rose :)Kennedy also does a nice job of placing “the streak” in the context of the buildup for war that was taking place. It was only two months after the end of the 1941 season that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Players were being drafted and several, including the great Hank Greenberg had already started their tours of duty. For those two months, DiMaggio’s streak and Hitler’s march through Europe competed for the headlines. Implied in this narrative is that “the streak” helped keep the country sane by sometimes diverting its attention from the ominous developments overseas to an event everyone could participate in.He also does an effective job looking at how ”the streak” is viewed in modern culture. It has become a commonly used analogy whenever some impressive record is about to be broken. He also talks a lot about how modern baseball players view “the streak”, and how it helps connect them to baseball’s history. And, Kennedy is right in that the DiMaggio’s streak is really the last pure record to be broken in baseball. Ruth and Aaron’s home run records were revered, as was Roger Maris’ single season home run record. All of those are now tainted because they were broken by players pumped up on steroids and human growth hormone. Gehrig’s consecutive game streak was at that level as well until it was broken by Cal Ripken. Ripken’s streak may eventually be viewed in that light as well given the type of man he was. But none of these approaches the reverence that DiMaggio’s streak is accorded. Most think it will never be broken. I agree.Kennedy sometimes went overboard with his narrative. Often, his descriptions of events ventured into the maudlin, particularly those related to a “gang” of boys – the Hornets and the Dukes – in Jackson Heights New York, who played street ball and whose obsession was baseball. While I understand including them in the narrative, the prose surrounding them often became too maudlin even for a book about baseball. It read like a Frank Capra script…only more sentimental if that is possible. With this and some other vignettes he really distracted from the overall flow of the book.Other times he would spend a lot of ink on seemingly trivial events like the songs sung before a game early in the season which included two pages of the songs lyrics. Sometimes the analogies he used made it appear he had just done a Google search and found something he had to include in the book. The one that made my eyes roll the most was in a section where he was describing how “the streak” is now viewed with reverence in modern day locker rooms, and that “it was a bit like saying ‘Harding’s ascent’ to a group of rock climbers at Yosemite, or ‘Escoffier’s soufflé’ among young chefs at a culinary institute.”Now, I suppose it is conceivable as a sportswriter that Kennedy may know who first climbed El Capitan at Yosemite park (I had to Google it), but it is simply not believable to think he had any idea who Escoffier was or what role he played in the history of the soufflé. Even if he did, it sounds pretentious…and ridiculous.Anyway, as an ardent baseball fan I really enjoyed this book. It succeeded in making me want more information about the people and events he describes…the hallmark of a good work of non-fiction. Non-baseball fans may enjoy it too as it touches on events outside the confines of baseball as they related to or were affected by, “the streak.”Highly Recommended!!!

  • Zach Franz
    2019-02-11 01:24

    A marvelous read. Kennedy knows his material well, partly due to his clear interest in it and partly from the exhaustive research he conducted. His writing is equally impressive. Details abound; he makes you feel the streets and fields of 1941. Joe DiMaggio becomes a fully-formed character, a real human. In some ways--despite principally covering only one summer of Joltin' Joe's life--this is a biography of DiMaggio. That's how closely his identity is tied to the titular, extraordinary achievement. Kennedy, an editor for Sports Illustrated, breaks down the statistics of the streak with a dedication that some non-sports readers may find tedious. But, overall, there is enough description of World War II, DiMaggio's first marriage and daily life in New York and San Francisco to keep most anyone engaged.

  • Boris
    2019-02-12 03:23

    A very interesting read on Dimaggio's hitting streak and the times as the streak unfolded against the backdrop of World War II.The history and nature of hitting streaks was discussed and made one aware of how truly difficult they are.As one would expect, there was much additional 'color' on the other famous and obscure players of the time. Also a reminder of the huge social impact of the game of baseball and its centrality in American life.

  • Michael Wright
    2019-02-20 00:15

    I'm even more convinced that this record will never be broken. The circumstances surrounding every hit of every game on the way to this achievement are impossible to imagine ever happening again. As such a lifelong fan of the game I don't know if this is comforting to know the record is safe with such a great man, or discouraging that I will likely never see anything close in my lifetime.

  • Janet Roland
    2019-01-20 23:18

    Well written. Took me back in time. Interesting back stories.

  • Jim
    2019-02-19 05:18

    Joe D the best player of all time ? Maybe so !!!! 56 Game hit. streak may never be broken .......

  • Harold Kasselman
    2019-02-09 01:15

    This is a wonderful and totally satisfying read. It is not merely a journal of box scores and daily recaps of the games in the streak. Rather it is a thoughtful portrayal of what the streak meant to New Yorkers most notably, but to American at large. Nothing captured the imagination of immigrants and especially Italians quite like their Guissepe from the San Francisco Bay area in his anguishing quest to make baseball history. But it also mesmerized all baseball fans and even those not faithful to America's game. Those were the days when the news of the streak was the main topic of conversation and people couldn't wait for the morning paper to learn whether he hit one yesterday. There is the personal look into the Clipper and the toll it took on him to complete baseball's most rigorous feat. Here is this super-hero who is revered by his teammates, other players, and the nation, lying in bed reading the comic book Superman to relax. This obsessively private man whose primary goal, aside from being the greatest player of all time, is to protect his image. He must hustle everyday on every play or at bat so that if anyone were to see him for the first time on a particular day, he would not embarrass his image. I enjoyed learning about Dorothy Arnold his first wife and what she had to put up with in living with a legend whose moods and impatience could lead any spouse into feeling small and unworthy. All of this is captured in the context of the impending war in 1941, the draft, and the German invasion of Russia. And yet, the top story of those two months was DiMaggio's streak. So captivating was the event, that famous band leader Les Brown wrote a best selling song about "Joltin Joe". And I also loved the author's interspersing of chapters which retrospectively look at the streak in historical context. How did it compare to Rose, Sisler, Molitor, Utley, Rollins? Why did Jeff Torberg prevent Tim Raines from bunting to get on so that Luis Castillo might have a chance to extend his 35 game streak? How did opposing pitchers feel about facing Joe D? Did they want to bask in the pages of history as the pitcher who stopped the streak like Bob Feller? Did they want to intentionally walk Joe to prevent him for getting a chance to hit? Or did they, like Bob Muncrief refuse his manager's order to walk Joe because he felt Diamaggio had earned the right to a fair chance at the plate? That is the kind of respect given to Joe. And Joe never tried to bunt his way on. In fact he hit 14 home runs in the stretch. Compare that to Pete Rose who, with two outs in thehe ninth and his team leading by 5 runs, bunted to extend his streak. Then there is the debate in game 30 when a scoring decision by Dan Daniels a New York writer who followed the Yankees, may have changed history. He scored a ball that ran up Luke Appling's arm as a hit. But was it because he too didn't want to be forever chastised for ending the streak or was it legitimate? Finally, if the streak had ended at 30, would Ted Williams rather that Joe D have won the MVP in 1941? Or would he have been voted in 1969 by a poll conducted by MLB and presented at an august commemoration of the first 100 years of baseball, as the greatest living player? Mays was there-so was Ted Williams and Aaron. One can only guess but Kennedy's last line says it all. Through the end of 2010 there had been 17,290 players who played the game. Only one of them has ever hit in 56 consecutive games.Does it sound like I loved this book? Damn right!!

  • Larry Hostetler
    2019-02-18 02:34

    This may have been a much more interesting book had I not recently read another biography of Joe DiMaggio. But having done so there is a great deal of biography in with the recounting of the 56 game streak. Unfortunately, I would estimate that the streak itself accounts for less than 1/3 of the book. For instance, games 50-53 with the following information on the games and at bats: "DiMaggio had run his hitting streak to 50 straight by singling in the first inning, and then added two more sinces and a ninth inning home run. His 20 home runs and 73 RBIs both led the major leagues. The next day he made it 51 in a row with a fourth-inning double over the head of Browns centerfielder Walt Judnich, a hit that scored the newly married Henrich and helped knock Auker out of the game. 'DiMaggio is liable to go on indefinitely,' McCarthy said."In Chicago, he extended the streak to 52 and then 53 games before a doubleheader crowd of 50,387, the largest at Comiskey Park in eight years." (p. 289)For the next nine pages Kennedy gives information on America's preparations for WWII, the reaction of Italians in various quarters to the streak, a recounting of DiMaggio's 61 game hitting streak in the Pacific Coast league, and other items that set the scene. But the central scene, the streak gets little mention. Game 54? A full paragraph on pp. 298-299, then a couple of pages on scenes around the country, and then a new chapter that gives a good description of game 55. Too little about the games (in general) and too much about the effect on the country, a group of boys in Brooklyn, DiMaggio's friends in Newark, etc. It is as if you went to a play and more time was spent on the scenery and costumes than on the play itself. Again, my reaction is probably negatively influenced by having recently read another biography, but I expected more of the kind of great recounting of the games that is given to other significant games (and to the end, games 55 and 56.) Obviously a ton of research, and additional information about statistics, Pete Rose's streak, and quotes from various stars is great, but my big complaint is that the book 56 gives short shrift to 46 of the games. But for those who don't know much about DiMaggio it would be far more interesting. I'd have given it 3.25 stars if allowed.

  • Brian Manville
    2019-02-09 06:33

    It was May 15, 1941. As America watched newsreels and read about the fascist menace in Europe, another type of horror gripped the American people. It started out harmlessly enough, a reserved, handsome man from San Francisco - wearing pinstripes and the number 5 on his back. The son of Italian immigrants and married to an actress, he had come east in 1936 after setting the Pacific Coast League ablaze with the San Francisco Seals. But, on that particular afternoon in 1941, Joe DiMaggio began casting a spell across America that would delight fans, overcome rivals, and captivate casual baseball observers. This witchcraft cast a spell that caused even fans of Yankee opponents to cheer for him and boo their own pitchers. Alas, not even official scorers were immune from feeling the ire of fans when batted balls were not properly judged to be hits.Many pitchers great and small attempted to slay this beast as he carried on around the eastern half of America. Good, hard-working pitchers from Boston to St. Louis tried their hardest, even fighting off feelings of awe and admiration and sometimes even fear in pitching to this wizard. It seemed the mighty like Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser, Lefty Grove, and Ted Lyons fared no better than the merely pedestrian pitchers Bobo Newsome, Johnny Rigney, or Dutch Leonard. This wizard even enchanted his way onto the All-Star team.And then, on July 17th, the Cleveland Indians rose up to challenge they called "Joltin' Joe" DiMaggio. An unassuming man by the name of Ken Keltner made two stops of lightning bolts from DiMaggio's bat to help end this curse that had plagued a nation and nearly brought the game of baseball to its knees. With the spell broken, America could resume enjoying its favorite sport as it always had. It would 37 years before a Red Menace would arise to transfix the sport.Kostya Kennedy was able to weave personal stories about the people around DiMaggio, and the story of America at that time to put his bewitching actions in context. But, like any story of good vs. evil, the hero finally arrives to save the day and thwart the plans of Number 5 from dominating baseball.BOTTOM LINE: The good guys from Cleveland stop the Yankees.

  • Zach Koenig
    2019-02-19 05:34

    Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941 still stands today as one of the most mythical baseball records to ever hold up over time. While a tainted Steroid Era of baseball wiped away many of the power-hitting records from decades gone by, Joe D.'s streak remains intact. Thus, author Kostya Kennedy gives us a book all about that magnificent streak...both the "ins" and the "outs" of it.Primarily, this book focuses on the context of the streak, including the state of the country (i.e. readying for war) at the time. Because DiMaggio was an Italian hero, happened to play during the lead-up to WW2 (when our country needed some heroes), played for the New York Yankees, and just plain and simple was a darn good baseball player, there was kind of a "perfect storm" about DiMaggio that "the streak" made legendary."56", however, is not simply a hit-by-hit description of the fact, it is far from it. Pretty much anyone who reads this book will walk away with a bit more knowledge on such things as...-The pressures on Joe to continue the streak and his own thoughts about it-His troubled relationship with wife Dorothy-His generally strange personality that makes him somewhat of an enigma even to this day-His sparse relationship with his other baseball-playing brothers-An in-depth discussion on some of the reasons why the streak has not yet been matched, as well as why Joe was such a good candidate for the streak in the first place.This is one of the strangest baseball tomes one will ever read. It focuses on a singular event (the hitting streak), but also goes both backwards and forwards in time to put everything in perspective. There is a chapter devoted to Joe's minor league hitting streak, as well as a chapter about Pete Rose trying to mount a streak of his own many years later.Overall, "56" is a good read for fans of Joe DiMaggio, the hitting streak, or baseball in general. It doesn't follow much of a linear pattern (besides the goings-on of the streak itself), but rather it tries (and by-and-large succeeds) in putting everything into context. Upon its conclusion, you'll feel as if you could just begin to understand what "the streak" was really all about.

  • Lance
    2019-02-20 06:37

    56 is one of those numbers in which baseball fans immediately know the record or achievement to which it denotes, along with 714, .406, or 511. In the case of 56, that is the number of consecutive games in which Yankee outfielder Joe DiMaggio got at least one base hit in 1941. It is considered to be a record that may never be broken, and DiMaggio’s journey on the way to achieving this remarkable feat is chronicled in this excellent book by author Kostya Kennedy.The book is much more than simply a game-by-game recap of the streak and how DiMaggio got the hits. In fact, there are several games in which there is barely a mention of the hits themselves. Instead the reader follows DiMaggio and how he is handling the streak from both a professional and personal aspect. The reader will learn about his wife in 1941, Dorothy and her anxiety about her Joe while she was pregnant with the couple’s first child. The mood of the entire nation, on the precipice of war, is captured eloquently in several passages. DiMaggio’s family life in San Diego, and his interactions with brother Dom, who was a good player in his own right with the Boston Red Sox, also are told here with the same quality as the rest of the book.The baseball writing is superb, not only for the actual game recaps and hits, but also from the locker room, the nightlife of a ball player and also the banter during the game with teammates and opponents alike. Some of these stories, especially those told from Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium at the apex of the streak, let the reader feel like he or she is actually in the dugout cheering Joe on or trying desperately to be the one to end the streak. While the book was written to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the streak in 2011, it is just as relevant and as good a read five years later during the 75th anniversary of this remarkable achievement. Add some extra chapters about players who have had long hitting streaks that have not come close to matching this one, the chances of the streak being broken, and also questions on whether Joe got some “help” from official scorers, this book is one that should definitely be on the shelf of every baseball fan.

  • Nathan
    2019-01-29 00:11

    56 takes on the streak from every angle. Kennedy brings you deep into the moment and then pulls you back out for the view from space. 360, inside and out. The book jumps from game to game, place to place, era to era, but it never loses you. Every chapter dovetails into the next. Every jump back in time or forward to the present comes at just the right time when you're wanting more. It is about the streak in all of its context with all of its players. My favorite aspect of the book is ts singular focus on the streak. As much as the book centers on Di Maggio, the true star of the show is the number. The streak. The record. Reading this you get the sense that even Di Maggio knew that. You get the daily slog of the streak, but even better is a glimpse at these games in such detail. I loved just to hear the names of the classic players from the various ballclubs. Names I'd heard before being shined a fresh light on as particpants in the day to day moments of the streak.By the time Di Maggio starts to approach the record Kennedy has immersed us in the moment. We know the pulse of the nation and our hearts beat right along. You've overheard the barbershop and soda shop conversations of little kids and grown men. You know about those who came before Di Maggio. We're given a history lesson within the context of history and reminded about ballplayers the were already nearly forgotten about in '41. You get plenty of Di Maggio too, but mostly within the context of the streak. How he handled himself during the day to day grind. How he felt that year compared to the year before. How his past was shaping this season, but this isn't a Di Maggio biography. The book also reminds us why baseball is truly America's pastime. Its because in our darkest hour it was there for us. In all Kennedy's retellings the Di Maggio update comes at the end of the newsreel. After the news of war and the gathering cloud. Baseball was there to pick our spirits back up. To take our mind off of the coming reality. Bottomline this is a great read, and a must read for any baseball fan, sports fan, history fan, Italian-American fan, et al.

  • Spiros
    2019-02-14 06:25

    I came to this fresh from reading Jane Leavy's The Last Boy, in which she disparages Joe DiMaggio for his stand-offish attitude to her hero, Mickey Mantle: from where I sit, I can't see that DiMaggio really owed Mantle anything. DiMaggio was stand-offish to pretty much everyone and everything (a trait which Nick Tosches, in Dino, his epic biography of Dean Martin, identified as "lontano"), and in Mantle he obviously saw a cafone, which is pretty much what Mantle was. Joe played in 10 World Series over his 13 year career, so notwithstanding Leavy's reservations, he couldn't have done all that much to hurt his teams. And while DiMaggio was evidently a failure as a father, and a failure as a husband (if something of a knight-errant to Marilyn Monroe, but only after they were divorced), I can't see that he was any worse, really, than Mantle in those regards. For many factors, DiMaggio resonates infinitely more with me than does Mantle. Joe makes me proud to be an American (whatever that may be), an Italian-American (whatever the fuck that may be), and a San Franciscan (I'm spending a lifetime getting a handle on what that is). My only real cavil with this book is the author's somewhat misguided use of internal monologues, as if he felt that the story would be too dry were we not privileged to be inside the thoughts of these people. He needn't have worried; while any real suspense is destroyed not only by the pervasive knowledge of The Streak amongst baseball fans, but also by the very title of the book itself, the story is suspenseful on its own merits, in revealing how the streak played out. He also does a very deft job of weaving the streak into the broader historical social and historical context of the summer of '41.On a further note, calling cioppino "that dreadful fish stew" is inexcusable. It took me a couple of chapters after that to credit anything Mr. Kennedy wrote.

  • Tad
    2019-02-07 06:20

    See my full review in the Deseret News here: has made "56" much more than a biography of a streak. It also serves as psychological profile of DiMaggio, of his bittersweet first marriage, of the nature of high performance and of how one surpassing record turned a 26-year-old superstar into a great American icon.Kennedy is at his best when he plumbs DiMaggio's psyche, explores the love he and his pregnant wife Dorothy shared and considers the streak with players then and now, as well as the (im)probability it will be broken. One study estimates such a streak possible once in 1,300 seasons.Joltin' Joe carried himself with memorable style, class and self-discipline, but inside, he was driven to win and, Kennedy writes, to never look foolish or beaten. The streak understandably smoothed his self-doubts, made him feel a closeness with teammates who thrilled him and made him feel better accepted. When the streak ended in Cleveland in front of the season's largest crowd, he felt like he'd lost a friend.Kennedy wisely writes not an academic history, but a narrative the way it is taught at the Columbia School of Journalism — where he, too, teaches — but absent the extensive footnotes of academia, he seemed to push creative license too far at times. The book would have been better with a note to explain, as he did in an interview with Pinstripe Alley, that anytime he shows a character thinking something, it is taken from a report or interview.Also, for a book that is many ways about numbers, this one begs for at least one list or chart. At least one hit from all 56 games are mentioned in story form, but it's hard to flip through the book and track them. Kennedy might blanch, but the book would be better if his rare but strong footnotes had been expanded creatively to help readers track the hitting streak through that summer and this book.At the very least, a chart of the 10 longest streaks would have been very welcome.

  • Clayton Campbell
    2019-02-04 04:28

    This book is all about Joe DiMaggio life story growing up. He was born November 25, 1914. Joe grew up playing baseball his whole life. He eventually made it to the big leagues and played for one of the greatest teams of all time, The New York Yankees. Joe accomplishes many things as the Yankees center fielder. He was a three time American League MVP. He was also the athlete of the year in 1941. Joe DiMaggio is known for his incredible hitting streak. DiMaggio went 56 games getting a hit in every single one. This recorded still stands today and is yet to be broken. Joe DiMaggio was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 two months before he passed away. Joe DiMaggio is a wonderful baseball player as a human being. He donated money to charities quiet often. In 1969 Joe DiMaggio won the award of America’s greatest baseball player. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of sports, mainly people who are fans of baseball. This is the life story of Joe DiMaggio. Kids who need an inspiration in life or something to get them motivated should read this book. The book opens your eyes in many different ways. This book is an inspiration. Anyone one can read it to open their eyes on life. My overall satisfaction with this book is good. I would rate it a four star. The book was very interesting and always keeps me clued in; did a very good job on using descriptive language and putting great detail into his work to show imagery. The reason I gave it a five star is that there were no flaws of the book. It wasn’t hard to understand. Kennedy sometimes stayed on point about his life story. I never wanted to put the book down it was so interesting. Overall this may be my favorite book I have ever read.

  • Jack
    2019-01-22 02:23

    What a wonderful book.I love baseball. I love the history of the game. This combines both with a narrative that flows like a novel. It is the story of a ball player who made a hit in 56 straight games.It’s the early summer of 1941. Men are being drafted; the country is changing over to a war footing but December 7 is still months away. And the country has turned its eyes toward a young man wearing pin-strips who plays center field for the NY Yankees.Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest ball players in the history of the game, is on a hitting streak. The author Kostya Kennedy has interviewed dozens and dozens of people. He his shifted through hundreds of pages of newspaper and magazine articles from 1941 and beyond.You get to know DiMaggio intimately - warts and all - and the men and women who were part of his life back in 1941.What makes this even more special for me is that as a teenager, my father-in-law attended the game in Cleveland when the streak was stopped.The book was published in 2010 and the final sentence sums up this accomplishment perfectly:“Through the end of the 2010 season 17,290 players were known to have appeared in the major leagues. Only one of them had ever hit in 56 straight games.”Add another 5 years and scores of more players to that total.

  • Mike
    2019-02-09 05:38

    56 is definitely a magic number and one that Kostya Kennedy examines thoroughly both in the chronology and the sideways glances that tell us about other streaks and other players. It is insightful and except for the attempt to connect us with local teens in useless vignettes, it is detailed in giving us context and ultimate in examining the unlikely sequence that would produce a hitting streak two weeks longer than any other.Somehow DiMaggio is a machine of consistency, a man who lacks love-ability, but was never-the-less admired more than any other. He was a man of image, but not of substance. I would have loved to know his friend Lefty Gomez, his rival and unlikable Ted Williams, and especially his brother Dom, but Joe was an image and as such he lit up the country in a time of war.He was not the greatest hitter of his era, Ted Williams was by far, but there was something too perfect about Jolting Joe and the book helps us to capture that magic.The streak is beyond any other statistic in baseball. It is consistent, it is daily, it is out of reach of all others, but it is DiMaggio who is the owner of the only streak beyond 56, the 61 that he set with the San Francisco Seals.Truly an wonderful step back in to baseball history.

  • David B.
    2019-02-18 23:20

    I really enjoyed this book and a great read during baseball season. Kennedy does a good job of explaining not only the 56 game streak but also what was going on in the world and America at the time and how Italian Americans were viewed and treated in 1941. I also liked his view from here where he gives his own opinions on the streak and what was going on in 1941. What I really found interesting is how close DiMaggio came in several games to not getting to 56. Last at bats and in one game was it a hit or an error? Even though I knew he was going to get a hit it was nerve racking to read. Especially his last at bat in some of those games. Game 57 was interesting in that he hit two sharp balls down to 3rd base line only to be thrown out at 1st on two terrific plays by Cleveland's Ken Keltner who was an All-Star 3rd baseman that year. DiMaggio was really cool about the streak ending saying that he knew it wouldn't last forever. Another amazing fact that no one talks about was that DiMaggio would go on a 16 game hitting streak after his 56 game streak ended. He became an America Hero that summer and the whole country was pulling for him game after game. If you Love the Yankees or Baseball it's a must read.

  • Nick
    2019-01-21 06:13

    I loved it when the author compared the streak to other players, showed how hard it was, and how impossible matching this record is. I wish the author had wrote more along those lines. This is quiet possibly the single most impossible event in any sport. 56 games in a row! Getting a hit three out of ten times is considered really good. This is probably the only record in sports that will never be broken. That being said, the story elements really seem to drag. Kennedy isn't necessarily a story teller, and there is a lot of story in here. Also, as amazing as the record is, I don't think Joe DiMaggio was nearly as amazing. He slept around, had ties with the mafia, and just seemed like a wet blanket. There wasn't much to his personality, and what was there wasn't worth learning about or looking up to. The only thing that made DiMaggio great was this record. Without the record he just would have been another fine ball-player but not the folk hero he has become. His name wouldn't be mentioned with Ruth, Gehrig, Williams, Cobb. He'd have been good, but this record propelled him beyond his level. Honestly, that's what this book showed me. DiMaggio isn't nearly as great as people think he is. He just did one great thing.

  • John Kaufmann
    2019-02-10 05:32

    Good book, following DiMaggio through his 56 game hitting streak in the summer of 1941 - but not as good as I expected, and probably not as good as I think it could have been (I hate saying that, because it implies I think I could do better than the author - and I doubt I could). The story mostly stayed with DiMaggio and the Yankees day-to-day schedule, which by itself made for good reading. But I guess I expected a little more context about what the country was experiencing at the time and how it affected DiMaggio, the sport of baseball, and baseball fans across the country. After all, the world was at war, and America was trying to resist it's pull while recovering from a decade of the Great Depression. I think there must have been a lot to say there, and it would have made it a better book. But still a fair read. I also expected a little more on what DiMaggio actually went through psychologically as the streak lengthened, but there wasn't a whole lot about that either. Really, the book was more of a surface look at the streak, the basic physical happenings day-to-day. As I think about, I guess I was a little disappointed from what I expected.

  • Ty
    2019-02-11 01:39

    Jolting Joe's 56 game hitting streak is definitely the biggest remaining record in baseball, and likely the greatest individual record in all of sports. this book covers the events of every game of the streak in some detail, but the most interesting parts cover Joe's life growing up in San Francisco, the nature of the game of baseball in that time, fascinating social commentary on life in the 40's and, best of all, a description of the USA as the country prepared for WWII. DiMaggio's streak was the last great thing that the country enjoyed before December 7, 1941. the Summer of `41 was a dichotomy of baseball action and the panzers overrunning Russia while Churchill spoke out bravely to carry on the Battle of Britain. many of the players were drafted during the season, joining millions of other young men preparing to fight Hitler and the Japs, rather than throwing and hitting a baseball. Joe D. was not a nice person, he does not even seem to have been a good person, but he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. this book is a great read for a true baseball fan.

  • Jordana Schmier
    2019-02-14 22:24

    I really wanted to like this book and the parts that were about the streak itself and its place in baseball history were good. However, the context elements were up and down. The state of the nation and the influence of WWII were well-written but the random characters here and there whose thoughts about DiMaggio that we learn - are they all even real? I was never sure if it was worth remembering who they were. Some turned up again in a sentence three chapters later, some did not. The epilogue, with its pseudo-statistics section, wasn't great. It's fine if statistics and explaining probability isn't the author's strength, but then I'd suggest having truncated that section dramatically and instead referring to other sources. I'm too much of a baseball fan to give this anything less than a 3, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it even to my Yankee-loving friends. (Oh, and either there are typos or errors - at least in the Kindle edition. In explaining "streakiness," the book states that Orel Hershiser's scoreless inning streak was 49, but of course it's 59.)