Written By: Peter Golenbock
Published By: Rowman & Littlefield
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
Football is over and baseball players are headed into camp. Spring training is coming and I am in the mood for a good baseball book. The best ones I’ve read have been by Peter Golenbock and happily there are still a few Golenbock books I have yet to read. I decided to start my prelude to baseball with a newer Golenbock book, Whisper of the Gods.
Whisper of the Gods: Tales from Baseball’s Golden Age, Told by the Men Who Played It is just that, a collection of baseball stories culled from the multitude of interviews Peter Golenbock has conducted over the years for his various baseball books. The book features tales told by Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, Roger Maris, Ron Santo, Phil Rizzuto, Monte Irvin, Ted Williams and more. There are two sections for Jim Bouton who was a good friend of the author and helped inspire the creation of this book.
Each chapter has a couple of paragraphs by the author, introducing us to the player, what team they played for, and what they will be talking about. I loved the fact that the players didn’t always talk about themselves, but other players, like what it was like to play with Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, what it was like to play in the Negro Leagues, special games in baseball history, and more. It was interesting to read as Ted Williams expounded about his feelings regarding the lifetime ban of Shoeless Joe Jackson from baseball and why Shoeless Joe belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (I happen to agree with him, and if they ever decide to put Pete Rose in, they had better put Shoeless Joe Jackson in first!)
It is true that the players featured in this book have long stopped playing the sport. Some are even long dead. But that’s why this book is so important. History is very important…the history of the game we love is very important…and it is all well and good to have a baseball historian tell the story, but an oral history told by the men who played the game in its early years is incredibly valuable to someone like me, a history and baseball enthusiast. Who else can give us the real feelings regarding the change in baseball after the establishment of the union but Monte Irvin? I loved how he pointed out that the higher salaries being paid some of the players might eventually price out the true fans of the game. Boy, was he ever on point there! Who else could compassionately talk about Walter O’Malley and why he moved the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles than Roy Campanella?
Whispers of the Gods is a terrific baseball book and a great add to any baseball fan’s bookshelf. Peter Golenbock has done it again, letting the players tell us their tales and give us insight into what it was like to play baseball in their era. I loved this book and read it in a matter of days. Now, I just need one more book – my shelves have Golenbock’s books about the Yankees, the Mets, the Dodgers, the Cardinals/Browns, the Red Sox, and the Cubs. He’s written oral histories about every New York baseball team except the New York Giants. That’s what I need – an oral history about the New York Giants from my favorite baseball author! In the meantime, I will re-read some of the tales about the Giants in Whispers of the Gods and hope for the best.
Check out Whisper of the Gods at Amazon