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1951: When Giants Played the Game
By Kerry Keene

Reviewer: Jon O'Konis, Sports Network Associate Baseball Reviewer


I used to believe that as far as baseball was concerned only three things happened in 1951. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays played their first seasons, and Bobby Thompson hit the shot heard around the world.

I was pleasantly surprised when Kerry Keene's 1951: When Giants Played the Game enlightened me to the other events that unfolded that year.

The three events I mentioned are of course covered in this book, but what makes this book special is that it pays equal attention to everything else: Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott being elected to the Hall of Fame; Minnie Minoso's superb rookie year; the continued great play of Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Jackie Robinson; and the final season of Joe DiMaggio's career. The beauty of this book is that in covering these events equally it gives the readers a sense that they were actually there witnessing it. The personalities of these players and front office personnel are displayed in a way that you don't normally see in baseball publications. Ted Williams, for example, is now seen as holy figure in baseball history, but in 1951 he was that generation's Albert Belle, and through the comments and newspaper article excerpts that Keane uses that comparison comes to life.

The real gold in this book, for any baseball fan, is the discussion of labor issues of the day. With a potential baseball strike quickly approaching within the next year, Keene presents an interesting picture of baseball labor discussions in 1951. Hint, it's the exact same. Owners complaining about the players making too much money and players wanting to make more.

1951: When Giants Played the Game is a solid and insightful book. It presents the nooks and crannies of a baseball season that, like an English Muffin, make it so special. It's an easy read for people who weren't alive then and a walk down memory lane for those that were.


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