Praying for Gil Hodges: A Memoir of the 1955 World Series and One Family’s Love of the Brooklyn Dodgers
- Updated: August 15, 2010
Driving over a bridge on an Indiana highway named after Hodges, a star first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, sets off a chain of memories from the Dodgers’ only World Series victory for Oliphant.
His memoir’s main narrative thread is his recollection of being allowed to skip school to watch Brooklyn take on the Yankees in the seventh game of the 1955 Series with his father, but the story takes a decidedly circuitous path; retellings of Jackie Robinson’s breaking of baseball’s color line and other significant moments in Dodger history appear between stories of growing up in a small Manhattan apartment as the Oliphants coped with the long-term effects of illnesses his father contracted during WWII.
The Pulitzer-winning columnist interviews the pitchers for both teams, broadcaster Vin Scully and other baseball fans of his generation. Although Oliphant spends much—perhaps too much—time discussing baseball’s glory years, the more personal material distinguishes the memoir. At its best, this isn’t a book about baseball, but about a family that found solace and comfort in the sport while making their way through mid-century America.