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Authors: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir

BOOK: Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir
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Praise for
Wait Till Next Year

“In a season awash in X-rated memoirs,
Wait Till Next Year
is an anomaly: a reminiscence that is suitable, in fact ideal, for a preadolescent readership of not just girls but boys too…. For self-esteem-building role models, for baseball lore and inning-by-inning action and for a lively trip into the recent American past, you could hardly do better. This is a 50’s success story that is able to acknowledge the strains in the prosperous decade as a fact rather than an indictment of the time.”

—Ann Hulbert,
The New York Times Book Review

“Ms. Goodwin has … made familiar events seem fresh again, as if they were happening for the first time only a couple of days ago.”

—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt,
The New York Times

“A poignant memoir … marvelous … Goodwin shifts gracefully between a child’s recollection and an adult’s overview.”

—Peter Delacorte,
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“Lively, tender, and … hilarious, … [Goodwin’s] memoir is uplifting evidence that the American dream still exists—not so much in the content of the dream as in the tireless, daunting dreaming.”

—Jodi Daynard,
The Boston Globe

“Endearing recollections of a feisty girlhood in the prefeminist, prosperous, confident 1950’s on Long Island, in the orbit of the Brooklyn Dodgers.”

The New York Times Book Review
(Bear in Mind section)

“Skillful, entertaining, and just plain interesting … There is a charming but deceptive artlessness to her recounting of childhood escapades involving neighbors, merchants and church doings; it is the sort of surface artlessness that results only from a fine writer’s conscious mastery of her difficult craft. Like the best pianists, Goodwin makes the difficult seem easy because she is a fluent technician.”

—Robert Finn,
The Plain Dealer

“Goodwin leaves room for readers to reminisce and to draw their own meaning from the small gem of a story. And by subtly entwining the threads of larger social issues that emerge—McCarthyism, integration, the threat of nuclear war—Goodwin succeeds in serving up a slice of America’s collective memory after which ‘nothing would be the same—in baseball, in sports, or in the country itself.’”

—Amy Rogers,
Creative Loafing

“As the tenured radicals attempt to rewrite our nation’s history, the warm, witty, eloquent personal testimony of someone of Doris Kearns Good win’s stature is well worth reading.”

—Maggie Gallagher,
Baltimore Sun

“In an era when memoirs are often characterized by salacious confessions, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin restores a refreshing element of innocence to the genre in
Wait Till Next Year
…. Such stability rarely exists anymore, in baseball or in life.
Wait Till Next Year
is a chance to savor it again.”

—Jim Abbott,
The Orlando Sentinel

“It isn’t necessary to be a baseball fan or to have your own memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers to savor Goodwin’s touching and beautifully conveyed reminiscences.”

—Bruce Nathan,
Chattanooga Free Press

“Readable as history, as a baseball story, or simply as the tale of a remarkable girl destined to become a remarkable woman,
Wait Till Next Year
is everything a literary memoir should be.”

—Tom Cooper,
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Come and get it, folks—this rarity, a happy memoir, about a girl, an era and a game.”

The Arizona Republic


The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt:
The Home Front in World War II

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream

Wait Till Next Year



New York  London  Toronto  Sydney

Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Copyright © 1997 by Blithedale Publications, Inc.

All rights reserved,
including the right of reproduction
in whole or in part in any form.

& S
and colophon are
registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
For information about special discounts for bulk purchases,
please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales:
1-800-456-6798 or [email protected].

Designed by Edith Fowler

Manufactured in the United States of America

20  19  18  17

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:
Goodwin, Doris Kearns.

Wait till next year : a memoir/Doris Kearns

p. cm.

1. Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)—History.

2. Goodwin, Doris Kearns—Childhood and youth

3. Baseball fans—United States—Biography

4. Historians—United States—Biography.

I. Title.

GV875.B7G66  1997


[B]                              97-39766


ISBN-13: 978-0-684-82489-5

ISBN-10:     0-684-82489-2

ISBN-13: 978-0-684-84795-5 (Pbk)

eISBN-13: 9781-4-391-8858-3

ISBN-10:     0-684-84795-7 (Pbk)

In memory of my parents
and to my sisters


, anxious to enrich his predominantly male cast with a passionate female fan, filmmaker Ken Burns interviewed me for his documentary on baseball. I talked about my childhood love for the Brooklyn Dodgers, my desolation when they moved to California, and my becoming a Red Sox fan—a rather ominous progression.

The reaction was startling. Almost everywhere, as I traveled the lecture circuit, I encountered people less anxious to hear my tales of Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedys, or the Roosevelts than they were to share memories of those wondrous days when baseball almost ruled the world. The enthusiastic intensity of their recollections revealed that they were remembering not simply the history of a team or a group of athletes but their own history, and especially their youthful days.

In response, I set out to write a story of my own coming of age as a Brooklyn Dodger fan, a story that would be
peopled not by leaders of the nation, but by Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Sandy Amoros, and the infamous Bobby Thomson.

As I set to work, however, I saw that my early involvement with baseball was an indistinguishable part of my childhood in Rockville Centre, Long Island. Thinking about the Dodgers summoned recollections of my family, my neighborhood, my village, and the evolution of my own sensibilities. I could not talk about my experience as a fan without also telling the story of my life as a young girl reaching adolescence in that deceptively tranquil decade of the nineteen fifties.

From something as simple as the small red scorebook in which I inscribed the narrative of a ball game, I saw the inception of what has become my life’s work as a historian. My early friendships, the adventures which took place in my home and on my block, in the butcher shop and the soda fountain, in my church and my school, revealed a microcosm of a time and a way of life shared by many who knew nothing of the Dodgers or even of baseball. These recollections unveiled my own qualities as a young girl, the experiences, the habits of thought and fantasy, the feelings which defined me as a child and which were decisively to shape my life and work as an adult. Thus, my intention to write my baseball story was transformed into something different. I would write my own history of growing up in the fifties—when my neighbors formed an extended family, when television was young, when the street was our common playground, when our lives seemed free from worry, until one remembered the sweeping fears of polio, communist subversion, and the atomic bomb that hung over our childhood days like low-lying clouds.

I soon discovered, however, that my own memory was not equal to my expanding ambition. Some of my most
vivid private recollections of people and events seemed ambiguous and fragmentary when subjected to the necessities of public narrative. If I were to be faithful to my tale, it would be necessary to summon to my own history the tools I had acquired in investigating the history of others. I would look for evidence, not simply to confirm my own memory, but to stimulate it and to provide a larger context for my childhood adventures. Thus I sought out the companions of my youth, finding almost everyone who lived on my block, people I hadn’t seen for three or four decades. I explored the streets and shops in which I had spent my days, searched the Rockville Centre archives, and read the local newspapers from the fifties. From all this—from my own memory and the extended memory of others, from old pamphlets, documents, yearbooks, and picture albums—I have tried to re-create the life of a young girl growing up in a very special time and circumstance, and set on a path which led inexorably to a place she could not even imagine.

Easter 1947.


, my father gave me a bright-red scorebook that opened my heart to the game of baseball. After dinner on long summer nights, he would sit beside me in our small enclosed porch to hear my account of that day’s Brooklyn Dodger game. Night after night he taught me the odd collection of symbols, numbers, and letters that enable a baseball lover to record every action of the game. Our score sheets had blank boxes in which we could draw our own slanted lines in the form of a diamond as we followed players around the bases. Wherever the baserunner’s progress stopped, the line stopped. He instructed me to fill in the unused boxes at the end of each inning with an elaborate checkerboard design which made it absolutely clear who had been the last to bat and who would lead off the next inning. By the time I had mastered the art of scorekeeping, a lasting bond had been forged among my father, baseball, and me.

BOOK: Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir
6.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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