Red Sox Nation

An Unexpurgated History of the Boston Red Sox

Written by: Peter Golenbock

Published By: Triumph Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Itís that time of year again - baseball season, a time when I eat, breathe and live baseball.  Sure, itís only spring training and exhibition game time, but I love baseball and this time of the year is when it all starts.  One annual tradition of mine during this time of the year is to read a baseball book and my favorite baseball author is Peter Golenbock.  So, this year, I sat down to read Red Sox Nation: An Unexpurgated History of the Boston Red Sox by Peter Golenbock.

            Now, the Boston Red Sox is by no means my favorite team.  In fact, with the exception of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox team, which reminded me a great deal of the 1986 World Champion Mets (who incidentally won the World Series against the Red Sox), I canít stand this team.  I have respect for a number of the individual players who have been with the organization, but since the 1986 World Series, Iíve considered them bitter rivals and wanted little to do with them.

            So why pick up the book?  Well, I have collected a number of Peter Golenbock baseball books over the years.  You see, when you love baseball, you have a constant yearning to learn more about it.  Peter Golenbock is one of those authors who gives you the whole picture of a teamís history, including views from the players, sports reporters, management, various people working in the organization and fans.  Many books just spew out the statistics, but Golenbock delves deeper and makes learning about the team a personal experience for the reader.

            The original title of Red Sox Nation was Fenway.  Published in 1999, the book was updated in 2005 to account for the winning of the World Series, a feat that the Red Sox had previously been unable to achieve since the year 1918.  It was known as the Curse of the Bambino and folks believed that since the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, the Red Sox were doomed to decades without World Champion status.  The 2004 team proved them wrong.  Golenbock changed his bookís title to Red Sox Nation as a nod to the fans of the Boston Red Sox who stayed true to their team despite the lengthy championship ring drought.  Thus, the book is as much about the evolution of the team as it is about the fans.

            Before I read this book, I thought I knew a lot about the Red Sox.  Afterwards, I realized I hadnít known all that much until now.  Golenbock delves far back into the teamís past, discussing itís origins as the Boston Somersets to their short time as Boston Pilgrims and long into their career as Boston Red Sox.  He discusses the loyalty of the fans who started out as The Royal Rooters and eventually became the Red Sox Nation.  He discusses the owners of the organization and the good, the bad and the ugly perpetrated by these owners over the years.  The history of the Red Sox organization is rich and stretches back to the early 1900s.

            I loved reading more about the amazing players that found greatness in the organization - players like Cy Young, Tris Speaker, ďSmokyĒ Joe Wood, Babe Ruth, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Waite Hoyt, Wes Ferrell, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams, Mel Parnell, Luis Tiant, Tony Conigliaro, Bill Lee, Carl Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Roger Clemons, Calvin Schiraldi, Mo Vaughn, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon and so many more.  The stories about how they got to the team, what they accomplished there, how they felt about the experience and how others felt about them were truly enlightening.  I wasnít a big fan of Ted Williams prior to reading this book.  I had always acknowledged his amazing hitting ability, but I never knew much about him except until reading this book.  Now I think he was one of the great misunderstood heroes of the game.

            I also loved reading about the fans and how they weathered the ups and downs of their team.  After a while, I began to feel a kinship with them, understanding what it is like to have your hopes built up, only to have them dashed miserably.  After all, I am a New York Mets fan. 

            Red Sox Nation was an incredibly interesting book that I was loathe to put down until I reached the very end.  Golenbock is a gifted writer and baseball historian.  He can make the history of a baseball team interesting even to the most rabid baseball detractor.  I truly enjoyed this look into the history of the Boston Red Sox and hope that Golenbock continues to write baseball books in the future.  My greatest hope is to see a Golenbock book about the history of the Giants franchise, from New York to San Francisco - quite the undertaking, but if anyone can do it and do it right, it would be Peter Golenbock.


For more books by Peter Golenbock, check out:


Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers

The Spirit of St. Louis: A History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns

Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964

Wrigleyville: A Magical History Tour of the Chicago Cubs

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