Joe Dimaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports
Sports Illustrated Books, Hardcover, 9781603201773, 368pp.
Publication Date: March 8, 2011
Winner of the 2011 CASEY Award from Spitball Magazine
Seventy baseball seasons ago, on a May afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio lined a hard single to leftfield. It was the quiet beginning to the most resonant baseball achievement of all time. Starting that day, the vaunted Yankee centerfielder 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.
Winner, CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year, Spitball Magazine
Runner-Up, PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
Best Biography/Autobiography, San Francisco Book Festival
"The best baseball book to appear in many a season." --Roger Kahn
"The era, the ballplayer and the record are all laid out beautifully.... The tension of the times is matched by the pressure of the streak." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Kennedy combines the sweep of a historian, the narrative power of a novelist and the passion of a fan." --Allen Barra, Newsday
"Kennedy has produced a book that, like its subject, is destined to hold up over time." --Tom Verducci
"A wonderful book. And what may be the last word on a record that may last forever." --Gay Talese
"Kostya Kennedy rescues The Streak from the numberish precinct of the record book and brings it back to the realm of drama which it dominated in 1941. He follows the ripples of DiMaggio's doings to the wide world beyond baseball and delivers to us a tale that's a delight." --Richard Ben Cramer
"56--the number alone still has meaning, but there is a compelling and textured story behind it, a story that pre- and postdates the summer of 1941. Kostya Kennedy tells that story beautifully." --Bob Costas