October 1964
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October 1964

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  2,267 ratings  ·  97 reviews
In 1989 David Halberstam published "Summer of '49," which became a #1 "New York Times" bestseller. It was a compelling portrait of baseball in an America as yet unchanged by affluence, technology, and social progress. The players, almost all white, had been raised in harsh circumstances, the games were played in the afternoon on grass and were broadcast on radio, the teams...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published April 11th 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published 1994)
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First off, I'm a sucker for any book that takes something that I like (baseball, music, art) and attempts to place it in a broader historical and political context. This is what Halberstam does in this book -- he illustrates how changes in American society, particularly around race and civil rights, were playing out in the game of baseball. The two teams he profiles, the Cardinals and the Yankees, represented divergent paradigms for how major league clubs attempted to deal with these changes: th...more
In 1958, my family reluctantly switched from rooting for the former Brooklyn Dodgers to rooting for the Yankees. It was not the same experience at all. When the Mets came along, we tried to appreciate them but at least in the first couple of seasons at the Polo Grounds, there were real obstacles, like the ghosts of the Giants and the early, cartoonish Mets' level of play. So for my formative years, I became a Yankees fan and this book reminded me of the heartbreak of 1964, when it became clear t...more
Aug 01, 2008 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sports fans, history buffs
This is a great book. For sure it's a baseball book, but Halberstam really explains what's going on and brings you back in time. He explains the characters and their motivations and brings the context of this 1964 season to life. It would be easy to say the 64 series was about the Cardinals and the Yankees. But so much more is happening. The issue of race is very evident in '64. Halberstam goes in depth on emerging stars like Bob Gibson for the Cards and what they go through to get to the bigs....more
Outstanding historical journalism of the 1964 season. The Cardinals and Yankees both came from behind to win pennants and Cards took the Series in 7 games. So many great players, managers, and scouts are profiled. The coverage of racial issues in baseball is a major focus, with the stories of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock portrayed a fascinating detail. Halberstam is great at telling a story with transparent prose. Am not much of a baseball fan, but I recognize it as a major contribution of our civil...more
Duane W. Stockton
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees who met that year in the World Series. Both were great teams but headed in the completely opposite direction. The Yankees had the likes of Maris, Mantle, Whitey Ford and a young Mel Stottlemyre, but were basically an aging team that was past its prime. And the farm system was essentially bare - the Yankees wouldn't even reach the playoffs for the next twelve years. The Cardinals, on the other hand, we...more
While David Halberstam is more noted for other books, his baseball books are among the best and October 1964 is no exception. This book chronicles the two participants in that year's World Series, the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. But despot the title, it's not just about those seven games in October but about the entire season. Halberstam crafts some great tales about players from both teams - I especially liked the selections on Roger Maris of the Yankees and Bob Gibson of the...more
Christopher Nieman
David Halberstam documents what he argues to be the pivotal baseball season of the 1960s. It is the year when one great team, the Yankees, is coming to the end of their long dynasty, and another team, the St. Louis Cardinals, is again establishing their dominance in the NL. The emphasis is on 'out with the old, in with the new.'

A strong sidelight to this theme is the colossal late-season flopparoo by the Philadelphia Phillies, who lost 10 of their last 12 games and basically handed the NL pennan...more
This was a really fascinating book. Despite following baseball all of my life, I have never really learned much about baseball's past. This book follows the 1964 Yankees and Cardinals until they meet in the World Series. There is certainly some description of the baseball games themselves, but much more of the book is devoted to exploring the players and front office of the two teams.

Especially interesting to me were the chapters focusing on the budding integration of black players into the Amer...more
Halberstam explores the baseball season of 1964 and holds it up to the world at large. he sees the season where the dynastic rule of the old, powerful white-centric Yankees were finally surpassed by the young, hungry multi-cultural Cardinals of Saint Louis. The Yankees, lead by an aging Mickey Mantle had to give way to a new breed of team, the Cardinals who were lead by their intense ace, Bob Gibson. Halberstam sees this as reflecting the changing environment of the American landscape where old...more
Rob Maynard
What a great read, not only about the Yankees and the Cardinals and how they reflected the old and the new baseball and social cultures colliding, but for all of the juicy anecdotes about the rest of the league. Particularly the part about how Milwaukee scrambled to fight Atlanta for the Braves, the whole move having to do with the Braves no longer having to share a television market (Chicago) with two other teams.

This is one of the very best baseball books I've read, and I've read a bunch. I'm...more
Adam K.
The copy I read was an advanced reader copy, so I'm not sure how much I read compares with the finished product. So much as I read, the only glitches were typos and grammatical errors. Everything else read pretty solid. Although I consider myself a lifelong Cardinals fan, I'm not so diehard as to know everything about them, so much of this book was somewhat new to me. Yeah, I knew who Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Mickey Mantle, White Ford, Curt Flood, etc., were, but I didn't know how miraculous and m...more
Lou Schuler
I was 7 years old when my hometown Cardinals beat the Yankees in 7 games in the 1964 World Series. I have just the vaguest memories of the series itself, like the fact they played the games during the day, and the nuns at my school would wheel a tiny black-and-white TV into our classroom so we could watch.

As I got older I came to think of the players in that series as baseball demigods. The Yankees had Mantle, Maris, and Ford, along with all-stars like Elston Howard, Tom Tresh, and Tony Kubek. T...more
David Halberstam’s October 1964 tells the story of the ‘64 Cardinals and the ‘64 Yankees and how they got to the 1964 World Series and who won. Halberstam does a very good job of telling the story, deftly weaving in information about the different players, managers and front-office men involved, and of the two teams in the seasons before and after 1964.

It was a very good book. I despise the yankees, but there’s no denying that they have a fascinating history, and it was really interesting to rea...more
While the title may lead you to believe that this book focuses on the World Series played in 1964 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the NY Yankees, as all Halberstam books go, it focuses on a much larger span of time, and on much larger issues. The Yankees of 1964 were a fading dynasty – its best players were old (see: Mantle, Micky), and its farm system was empty. The Cardinals of 1964 were coming into themselves as a team, much having to do with their successful integration of a number of bl...more
Jun 12, 2008 Daniel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sports fans
One of the most terrific sports books ever written (IMHO). There is wonderful kismet in this book in the way that Halberstam was one of the greatest American sportswriters (and just storytellers in general) and that he decided to chronicle one of the greatest series of games in the history of baseball, to record the dethroning of the New York Yankees dynasty that had overwhelmed all competition for a very long time by a young, upstart, hungry, midwestern team with mostly African American stars....more
Aug 03, 2013 Randal rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Casual baseball fans
Shelves: baseball, nonfiction
Halberstam is likely the best historian to have done a baseball book and it shows; the background is excellent. He really clearly shows why it was the end of the Yankee dynasty and the rise of the NL.
He also makes unusually good choices of what to include and what to omit, which keeps things moving along with a minimum of "then he threw him a slider on the outside corner for strike three and the Yankardinillies were half a game up."
On the other hand, the technique of introducing the action and t...more
This book tells the story of what it was like to be part of baseball in the 1950s and 1960s, highlighting the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. Its perspective is very special, in that it looks at the struggles players endure, with each other as part of a team, with managers and the owners, and most of all with their own expectations. The stories of mental and physical endurance were just fascinating, be it Mickey Mantle's efforts despite an ailing body, Roger Maris’s difficulty adjustin...more
Jon Sindell
This book is graced with Halberstam's characteristic intelligence, clarity of vision, thoroughness, and fondness for his subjects. His writing, as always, is sharp and clear.

The 1964 World Series presented a fascinating study in contrasts from a sociological perspective. The Yankees, very late to integrate because of their near monopoly on white talent in the late-to-integrate American League (Mantle, Ford, Maris), were at the end of their long run of dominance precisely because of their intoler...more
Charles Moore
October 1964 by David Halberstam is an old stand-by. I came across a copy while preparing for the public library's book sale and had to skim through it again. Halberstam tells the very interesting tale of the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees that met in the 1964 World Series. The powerhouse Yankees of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. The come-from-behind (a long ways behind!) Cards. And also the crazy owners and silly trades and the special few plays on the field that changed the seaso...more
Halberstam’s October 1964 gives readers an exhilarating ride through a pivotal season in baseball. I began the book expecting a play by play of a landmark World Series, and the games leading up to it. In the end, the details of the games themselves are actually the lesser part of the story. What you get instead is so much more: a detailed, humanizing, and illuminating portrait of many of the faces of baseball, from background actors like scouts and coaches, to the big name managers and owners, t...more
Bill O'driscoll
The title of my annual baseball read this year is a bit of a tease -- only about the final 30 pages take place in October 1964, during the World Series between the Cards and the Yanks. Moreover, on one level this is a baseball book in its particulars; really it's a book about race in America. Halberstam, a thorough reporter and elegantly careful writer, contrasts the Cardinals, who embraced and groomed black players like future stars Bob Gibson, Curt Flood and Lou Brock, and the dynastic Yanks,...more
Chris Witt
I was looking for a little background reading to supplement a Strat-O-Matic replay that included the 1964 Yankees and this scratched the itch.

Halberstam follows the World Series teams (Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals) from Spring Training through the Fall Classic, often devoting most of a chapter towards a particular player. The end result leaves you with a pretty good biography of the two teams.

"October 1964" points out how the Cardinals finally overcame the city of Saint Louis' rather rotten a...more
This is a great book for a longtime fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, which I am. It is not a stereotypical baseball book that tells a story with a climax (that usually occurs in the late innings). Instead, this is a book about the people in who played, managed, marketed, scouted, and owned baseball in 1964. Many of the stories were about the extreme prejudice practiced against black players in the 1940', 1950's and on through the 1960's. Halberstam shows much more concern about where players came...more
My baseball heart was broken in 1964.My Phillies, doormat of the league for most of my early years, gave up the ghost at the end of the season, outraced to the National League pennant by the St. Louis Cardinals. Crushing to my young-teen self.

Finally, in 2012, I've been given a new perspective on that baseball year through the reporting of David Halberstam (book was published in 1995). I've fallen in love retrospectively with both the '64 Cardinals and Yankees, with the ethos of the time, the c...more
Other reviewers have covered this pretty well - a good telling of the 1964 season for the Cardinals and Yankees from the larger view of cultural changes happening in baseball and in America at the time. 3.5 stars for me (perhaps I'm still recovering from how much Ken Burns wanted to focus on Baseball as a story of American race relations), recommended for cerebral baseball fans.
Daniel Nelson
Another classic by Halberstam. Much like Summer of '49 - this book offers a nostalgic look at the World Series match-up between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees. I connected with this book mainly because of how Halberstam is able to write in a way that you can feel the emotion of the situation. The book offers a contrast from the up and coming Cardinals to a crumbling dynasty of the New York Yankees in the mid-sixties. Not only are these teams going in opposite directions there a...more
Tony Gleeson
If you've ever tried to read one of David Halberstam's serious tomes, like "The Powers That Be," you may have found him ponderous, pompous, and hard to wade through--although he is also a superb journalist who mines his subject with impressive thoroughness and intelligence. But when Halberstam writes about baseball, the ponderousness drops away and he becomes a young kid infatuated with the game. "Summer of '49" and this book are really enjoyable reads. They're also full of great information but...more
Allen Roth
Overall a disappointing book by Halberstam. While I thoroughly enjoyed his Summer of 49 this time around Halberstam spends too much time preaching about the politics of the era. But the book is not without its merits. Despite his clear dislike of the Yankees, Halberstam presents memorable portraits of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, White Ford, and Casey Stengel. He offers the best description of the pain and suffering Mantle experienced every day. His less than complimentary description of Stengel...more
Nov 19, 2007 Bob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Baseball Fans
In selecting this book I thought it would go into great detail about the World Series of 1964 Cardinals vs. Yankees(I was 9 at the time and kids snuck transistor radios in to school to listen to the games). I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wrong. The author supplied great detail into the ownership, management, construction and personality of the two teams. I enjoyed the insights into the formation of the Cardinals, the roles of Buck O'Neill, Johnny Keane and the chemistry of a racially m...more
What a fantastic book! Took me right back to 4th grade when I was the biggest baseball fan in the world. Halberstam has done a wonderful job discussing baseball in the year of 1964---particularly as it related to the Yankees and Cardinals, who would go on to face each other in the World Series. He is able to put all the baseball stuff in context of other things going on in society at the time---especially race relations and even more specifically, the rising tide of black athletes in baseball. I...more
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David Halberstam (April 10, 1934–April 23, 2007) was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author known for his early work on the Vietnam War and his later sports journalism.

Halberstam graduated from Harvard University with a degree in journalism in 1955 and started his career writing for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing for...more
More about David Halberstam...
The Best and the Brightest The Breaks of the Game Summer of '49 The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

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