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56: Joe Dimaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports | [Kostya Kennedy]

56: Joe Dimaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports

Seventy baseball seasons ago, on a May afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio lined a hard single to left field. It was the quiet beginning to the most resonant baseball achievement of all time. Alongside the story of DiMaggio's dramatic quest, Kennedy deftly examines the peculiar nature of hitting streaks and with an incisive, modern-day perspective gets inside the number itself, as its sheer improbability heightens both the math and the magic of 56 games in a row.
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Publisher's Summary

Seventy baseball seasons ago, on a May afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio lined a hard single to left field. It was the quiet beginning to the most resonant baseball achievement of all time. Starting that day, the vaunted Yankee center fielder kept on hitting - at least one hit in game after game after game. In the summer of 1941, as Nazi forces moved relentlessly across Europe and young American men were drafted by the millions, it seemed only a matter of time before the U.S. went to war. The nation was apprehensive. Yet for two months in that tense summer, America was captivated by DiMaggio's astonishing hitting streak. In 56, Kostya Kennedy tells the remarkable story of how the streak found its way into countless lives, from the Italian kitchens of Newark to the playgrounds of Queens to the San Francisco streets of North Beach; from the Oval Office of FDR to the Upper West Side apartment where Joe's first wife, Dorothy, the movie starlet, was expecting a child. In this crisp, evocative narrative Joe DiMaggio emerges in a previously unseen light, a 26-year-old on the cusp of becoming an icon. He comes alive - a driven ballplayer, a mercurial star and a conflicted husband - as the tension and the scrutiny upon him build with each passing day. DiMaggio's achievement lives on as the greatest of sports records. Alongside the story of DiMaggio's dramatic quest, Kennedy deftly examines the peculiar nature of hitting streaks and with an incisive, modern-day perspective gets inside the number itself, as its sheer improbability heightens both the math and the magic of 56 games in a row.

©2011 Kostya Kennedy (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The era, the ballplayer and the record are all laid out beautifully.... The tension of the times is matched by the pressure of the streak." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Kennedy combines the sweep of a historian, the narrative power of a novelist and the passion of a fan." (Newsday)
"56 - the number alone still has meaning, but there is a compelling and textured story behind it, a story that pre- and postdates the summer of 1941. Kostya Kennedy tells that story beautifully." (Bob Costas, NBC sportscaster)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (16 )
5 star
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4.0 (11 )
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3.6 (12 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer FRESNO, CA, United States 07-01-14
    Amazon Customer FRESNO, CA, United States 07-01-14 Member Since 2014

    I am a professional photographer, a motorcyclist, and an avid reader and listener. I enjoy history, business books and

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    "A fascinating look at both DiMaggio and the streak"

    Even though I am a baseball fan and knew quite a bit about the history of the game, I knew little beyond the fact that Joe DiMaggio held the consecutive game hitting record of 56 games. When I saw the book, I thought it was a good time to read it, what it being baseball season and all.

    It took me a little time to get "into" the book. At first I did not like Collin's narration, but as the book went along I began to enjoy it more and more and by the end, I thought it was perfect for the book and the subject.

    The book goes not only the streak and baseball but also into DiMaggio as a person. Quite and reserved, he had a hard time with crowds. he loved being in the spotlight but didn't like what came with it.

    There was a chapter about his first wife and how hard her life with DiMaggio was and that was probably the least interesting part of the book. it did give some incite into his personality, but it is the hitting streak where this book really goes into detail. Not only how hard it was to hit safely in 56 straight games, but how other great hitters, like Ted Williams, one of baseballs greatest hitters and who hit for a 406 batting average in 1941, (the year of the streak) never came close in his carrier.

    The book also puts DiMaggio's accomplishment into modern perspective and has one chapter about Pete Rose, who hit safely in 44 games. The final epilogue talks about how statisticians have tried, over the years, to assess the probability of the streak. It's all fascinating listing for baseball fans.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jeffrey 03-03-15
    jeffrey 03-03-15 Member Since 2014

    Father of three with no time to actually read, but also a former history teacher and current attorney with a long commute-I love audiobooks.

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    "Rough start but worth it..."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Good for baseball fans....


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    It really should be more chronological than it is...


    Which scene was your favorite?

    some of the analytics of how unlikely the streak is were really interesting...


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    Good one for baseball fans...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruno 01-28-15
    Bruno 01-28-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent"

    56 is an excellent book.
    Joe D. Was the man and still rules.
    Brings the streak alive in a great narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. brown 05-09-14
    B. brown 05-09-14 Member Since 2014

    moemoe

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    "Great story, terrible narrator"

    Im making it clear now that my bad review has nothing to do with the book itself but with the narrator. Its a shame too because a good narrator would have really brough this story of Joe D to life. I originally bought the kindle version and was about halfway through and saw where they added the audible version with Whispersync. I listened for about 10 minutes and every single second was painful. Something that is very irritating when listening to sports books is when the reader mispronounces names, names of players that any sports fan would know. This narrator constantly butchered the names and read in almost a robot voice. I recommend that whomever selects the reader for a book to get someone that is at least a little knowledge of the sport. I hate when people say "dont buy, dont listen etc.".....like someone is telling me what to do, plus we all have different . So since I dont like that I wont tell anyone to not buy this audio version, but I will say that if I had to do it over again I wouldnt buy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Murrieta, CA, United States 03-02-14
    Rick Murrieta, CA, United States 03-02-14 Member Since 2015

    Rick H.

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    "Excellent story...Painful oration!"

    It goes without saying by any baseball fan or sports historian that "56" needs no explanation. You don't have to be a Yankee fan to understand the significance of the streak, and what it would take to break it and you don't have to be a baseball fan to understand that there is little if anything in any other sport that mirrors this accomplishment. It's awe-inspiring! It humbles the average man and probably every ball player past and present to think of how magnificent this total really is.

    There are a few numbers, at least for me, that need no explanation. .402, 756, 61 (yes, still the records in my mind), and of course 56. But of all those marks, 56 is the one that stands out. That is the mark that will most likely never be broken, at least in my life time and will always evoke some sort of passion among baseball fans even if they didn't personally witness any part of it being made. I didn't but still know what it means to baseball. And to think what it take to get there is astounding. The author does a very good job throughout the text drawing comparisons between former and current players and among other athletes. He also does and excellent job of showing the math behind the streak, showing the reader exactly how improbable it really was.

    I enjoyed most of the dialog though I'm not a Yankee fan by any stretch and after reading the countless other stories about DiMaggio and how he acted toward others both in and around baseball rubbed me the wrong way. He's always seemed like sort of a jerk, plain and simple.

    The oration was atrocious! Kevin Collins does a horrible job of pretending to be Ken Burns with his over-emphasis on every syllable and his over-worked effort to make the story sound more dramatic than it actually is. 56! I get it! Lose the inflection and read the book! Sorry, painful is all I can think to describe his reading. If you want a better read on the subject which captures the entirety of 1941, take a look at "Real Grass, Real Heroes".

    I liked the story and will never get enough of the subject so I recommend the book to any baseball or sports fan who wants to compare what "Joltin' Joe" did. It is well worth the credit if you can get past the painful narration.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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