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Monday, April 23, 2007

MLB.com: Author Halberstam dies in car crash

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who chronicled the Washington press corps, the Vietnam War generation and baseball, was killed in a car crash early Monday, a coroner said. He was 73.

Halberstam wrote the classic baseball book, “The Summer of ‘49,” about the pennant race battle between the Yankees and Red Sox that season.
...
Halberstam, a New Yorker, was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle near in Menlo Park, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said.

NTNgod Posted: April 23, 2007 at 11:33 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books

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   1. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: April 23, 2007 at 11:43 PM (#2343511)
Whoa.

Condolences to his family and to baseball at large.

He will be missed.

R.I.P.

Best Regards

John
   2. Jeff K. Posted: April 23, 2007 at 11:57 PM (#2343533)
This is definitely a dark day for sportswriting.
   3. Flynn Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:00 AM (#2343541)
That sucks.

I've only read Teammates and it was a fantastic book. I know he's been derided by some for the occasional inaccuracy and willingness to connect Joe DiMaggio's swing to the prosperity of post-war America, but only the turd in the punchbowl could fail to enjoy his books. I had no idea he was 73, which tells you he had more books left in him.
   4. frannyzoo Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:07 AM (#2343554)
I'm shallow, but between Yeltsin's death and Halberstam's, it's no contest. This one means more to me. Thanks, sir.
   5. Jeff K. Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:11 AM (#2343562)
"The Summer of '49" is the first real baseball book I can remember reading. It put me on a three-year jag of that type of book (Boys of Summer, etc.)
   6. AndrewJ Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:14 AM (#2343570)
I had no idea he was 73, which tells you he had more books left in him.

One he had in the works was about the 1958 Colts-Giants NFL championship game -- he talked excitedly about it when I met him in person four years ago.

My aunt was friends with David's brother Michael, a doctor who was shot to death one night in his car in DC in the early 1980s -- before expiring he drove himself to the nearest emergency room entrance and explained to the staff where he was shot.

While at the NY Times during the Kennedy administration, David Halberstam covered US involvement in Vietnam -- JFK personally asked the Times management to replace him.
   7. AndrewJ Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:26 AM (#2343590)
When I met Halberstam four years ago, he said he was about to start work on a book about the 1958 Colts-Giants NFL championship game. Wonder how far along he was on it.
   8. VG Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:45 AM (#2343626)
I used to say that I wanted to be David Halberstam when I grow up. I've read at least seven of his books. I was fortunate enough to meet him in March 1998 at a book signing for The Children. I was covering the event for the paper I worked for. He agreed to do an interview before the event, and he was generous with his time and advice. After the event was over, he autographed my copy of October 1964.

I will miss his forceful writing, his incisive interviewing and his exhaustive research. May God rest his soul.

(I hope he never read the story that I wrote about the book signing. There was an unfortunate editing error that made me and the paper look foolish.)
   9. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:45 AM (#2343632)
Ok, we get it, you met David Halberstam.

Story on CNN says he was working on a book about Y.A. Tittle.

This is really crappy news.
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 24, 2007 at 12:50 AM (#2343641)
Too bad.

At least it was quick. I guess a car crash isn't that bad a way to go, when you consider some of the alternatives.
   11. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 24, 2007 at 01:04 AM (#2343664)
While growing up, I had always assumed that Halberstam was just a sportswriter, largely because of Breaks of the Game and Summer of '49. Then I found out that he was a wide-ranging author who just happened to like sports, baseball in particular. I think that's a good indication that sports represents more than just the "toy department" of newspapers, as some news people have claimed over the years.
   12. GregD Posted: April 24, 2007 at 01:19 AM (#2343692)
The Children is one of the really fine popular histories of civil rights. And he was a courageous reporter on that issue at The Tennessean (where he had institutional support) and in Alabama (where he did not and was fired for his reporting positively on civil rights marches.)
   13. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: April 24, 2007 at 03:24 AM (#2343834)
Ok, we get it, you met David Halberstam.

Nice.
   14. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 24, 2007 at 01:29 PM (#2344005)
in Alabama (where he did not and was fired for his reporting positively on civil rights marches.)

Could well be, though a quick search shows him being fired as a young reporter during the Civil Rights era from a paper in Mississippi, not Alabama. Not that it really matters (the papers down here weren't exactly to be confused with the Daily Worker back then, not that they are now), but finding myself mired in the morass that is 'Bama I'm just curious about the details.
   15. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 24, 2007 at 01:31 PM (#2344008)
in Alabama (where he did not and was fired for his reporting positively on civil rights marches.)

Could well be, though a quick search shows him being fired as a young reporter during the Civil Rights era from a paper in Mississippi, not Alabama. Not that it really matters (the papers down here weren't exactly to be confused with the Daily Worker back then, not that they are now), but finding myself mired in the morass that is 'Bama I'm just curious about the details.
   16. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 24, 2007 at 01:37 PM (#2344014)
One he had in the works was about the 1958 Colts-Giants NFL championship game -- he talked excitedly about it when I met him in person four years ago.


I wasn't aware of that. I've thought of doing a writeup on that myself. Not that I'm a Halberstam, but I've been looking around for a book topic.

I forget the name of the book, but Halberstam wrote an eminently readable one the US Olympic crew team from @ 25 years ago. I like to read about sports like that on occasion.
   17. A.T.F.W. Posted: April 24, 2007 at 04:48 PM (#2344186)
One he had in the works was about the 1958 Colts-Giants NFL championship game -- he talked excitedly about it when I met him in person four years ago.

According to the ESPN article:

"Jean Halberstam said her husband was being driven to an interview he had scheduled with Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle. Halberstam was working on a new book, "The Game," about the 1958 NFL championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, often called the greatest game ever played, she said"


http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2847054
   18. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 24, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2344203)
:(

man, this sucks WAY more than the death of that russian kleptocrat.

he did an excellent popular history about the 1950's too.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 24, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2344212)
This is a terrible loss, since Halberstam was one of the youngest 73-year-olds on earth, with at least another decade's worth (and probably more) of good writing in him. As a former book dealer, I always admired the way he could write for a general audience without dumbing it down, even if he did tend to get a bit wordy at times. And the sheer range of subject matter that he wrote about was a sure sign of his greatest attribute, which was an insatiable curiosity about the world.

And damn, I sure wanted to read his take on that Colts-Giants game. I'm sure that Y.A. Tittle alone could have given him half a chapter's worth of insights on that Baltimore defensive line.

Damn.
   20. Bunny Vincennes Posted: April 24, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2344217)
This is terrible news.

I have a friend who sat behind Halberstam, Updike, and Plimpton at Fenway years ago. He's got the framed scorecard to prove it also.
   21. Mattbert Posted: April 24, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2344219)
I heard about this during the NESN broadcast of last night's Sox-Jays game. Terrible, terrible news. Summer of '49 and October 1964 were landmark books for me as a kid. I'm also remembering very fondly a piece he did on Pedro Martinez for ESPN Page 2, probably seven or eight years ago now.

Halberstam was the commencement speaker at my younger brother's college graduation a few years ago, and he was fantastic; galvanizing, sobering, laugh out loud funny, and most importantly, brief.

I hope the baseball and journalism communities are able to find an appropriate way to honor him.
   22. AndrewJ Posted: April 24, 2007 at 09:44 PM (#2344545)
Sorry for the double posting last night. I thought my computer froze after post #1, hence the abridged post #2.

Bill James went to town on Summer of '49's inaccuracies, but it's still an all-right book. The Teammates was excellent. October 1964 is a good book, but asking a Phillies fan like myself to read about the 1964 NL pennant race is like asking a Jonestown survivor if they'd like a sip of your Kool-Aid.
   23. GregD Posted: April 25, 2007 at 12:30 AM (#2344752)
get the talking mongoose,
You're right about the state. I don't know the details, but it is mentioned in this review of The Children that he was fired for freelance articles he was writing about civil rights. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/15/reviews/980315.15oshinst.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
   24. Buzzards Bay Posted: April 25, 2007 at 01:03 AM (#2344821)
in the HOM of our wild blue yonder Mr.Halberstam is unanimous
100%

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