Title: The Boys of Summer
Author: Roger Kahn
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Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer doubles as one of the greatest books ever written about baseball and the memoir of a sportswriter. Kahn probably resents having his book thought of as two separate entities -- he says as much in the epilogue of a later printing -- but there are two stories here.
The first is of a boy growing into a baseball fan despite a mother who saw the sport as beneath him. His father nurtured Kahn’s love for the sport, namely the local Brooklyn Dodgers. Kahn grows into a Dodgers fan and eventually becomes a sportswriter covering the team. He tells of his progression as a journalist, starting at the lowest rung of being a copyboy and moving toward a respected sports columnist.
Following that are several chapters about the heroes of his childhood and many of those around him. Kahn finds and writes what happened to players like Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Preacher Roe after they retired. It is a beautiful final hurrah for the Dodgers, an excellent way to bring together the Bums once more. Fans from that era learn what happened to the ballplayers that seemed larger than life. (Duke Snider, for example, becomes an avocado farmer.)
Kahn’s excellent reporting comes through in this latter section. He isn’t some sportswriter making a few phone calls to catch up. Rather, Kahn shows he actually remembers and cares for these players by the in-depth questions he asks. He learns what any fan would want to know.
There is a lot to enjoy about the writing. Kahn’s prose is excellent, and readers easily flow through the pages. Even though The Boys of Summer is more than 450 pages, it is a quick read. Baseball fans will truly enjoy the revelations, the insight and the story.
Readers will be glad to have The Boys of Summer, even if they aren’t Dodgers fans. This is a must-own book for any fan and earns a perfect four out of four on the AtHomePlate.com rating scale.
AtHomePlate.com grades books with the following system:
Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book story to get a copy.
Three Balls: This book stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Two Balls: A book worth reading/owning and is usually above average.
One Ball: This book has something to say but is nothing special.
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