cover image Season of ‘42: Joe D, Teddy Ballgame, and Baseball's Fight to Survive a Turbulent First Year of War

Season of ‘42: Joe D, Teddy Ballgame, and Baseball's Fight to Survive a Turbulent First Year of War

Jack Cavanaugh. Skyhorse, $24.95 (300p) ISBN 978-1-61608-740-1

With his exploration of how the U.S.'s involvement in WWII impacted the 1942 Major League Baseball season, Pulitzer Prize-nominee Cavanaugh (Tunney) executes a winning double play—intertwining baseball history with progress reports from the front lines of battle, his newest will please sport fans and military buffs alike. When President Roosevelt notified baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis in January 1942 that "it would be best for the country to keep baseball going," the populace wondered whether it was morally acceptable for healthy young men to play a boys' game while peers risked their lives overseas. Many players, conveniently overlooked by the government's draft early on, knew they were lucky and voiced few complaints about accommodations baseball made to the war effort, which included the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before every game, playing exhibitions against military-base teams, and eliminating night games along the Atlantic Coast. Ultimately, baseball proved a worthy and welcome distraction for both citizens at home and GIs abroad, thanks in part to the St. Louis Cardinals' improbable World Series victory over the New York Yankees. Though Cavanaugh's textbook writing style is a bit stiff for this vibrant American story, the colors, characters, and conflicts of the time nevertheless stand out. (July)