Book #28- The Only Game in Town

The Only Game in Town is an oral history of 1930s-1940s baseball, edited by former commissioner Fay Vincent. The book talks with around a dozen players– some great, the other good, about their reminiscences of major league baseball. The high point of the book is unquestionably the chapter about Buck O’Neil. O’Neil, who sadly passed away recently, was a great American. An African-American, deprived of the chance to ever play major league baseball, Buck O’Neil instead spent his life as the great ambassador of the Negro Leagues. He was, as they say, strong enough not to hate. Instead, he was a delight– funny, poignant, always worth listening to, whether on Ken Burns’s excellent “Baseball” series or in this book.

The other players have some good stories as well. Bob Feller talks about his World War II experiences, Dom DiMaggio speaks about living in the shadow of his brother, Joe, and generally, everybody has a Ted Williams story or three.

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s a nice read. If you’re not, search of Buck O’Neil’s autobiography or Joe Posnanski’s “The Soul of Baseball”, a story of his year traveling with and chronicling an aging O’Neil. Those are worth reading for anybody and everybody. It’s beecause they are stories about adversity and life, and baseball sometimes just happens to pop up. On the other hand, this book is mostly about baseball.

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