Baseball columnist Weintraub is the author of The House That Ruth Built. His latest offering, The Victory Season, is a dual history of the war service of professional baseball players and the 1946 season. Weintraub reminds the reader that 1946 was a turbulent transitional year marked by housing and food shortages and labor uprisings. Baseball also saw turbulence with the rise of the Mexican league, the glut of players returning from service, and the failed efforts to organize them. Weintraub details the war service of numerous players, including DiMaggio, Williams, Musial and Feller. Some remained stateside and some saw combat, but most were able to play baseball with their units. He also pays homage to the players who didn’t return. The bulk of the book is devoted to the drama of the season, alternately describing the Boston Red Sox quest for their first World Series title since 1918, and the pennant race between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The narrative concludes with the thrilling World Series, although baseball fans will already know how it ends. If the book has one flaw, it is that it includes too much detail and useless trivia. Weintraub tends to overwhelm the reader by gunning them with unrelated facts and hitting the ball all over the field. But for World War II historians and baseball fans, it’s a home run.
If you enjoy this book, you will also enjoy “When Chicago Ruled Baseball” by Bernard Weisberger