The Boys of Summer
The book's title, taken from a poem by Dylan Thomas, refers to the Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1950s, who were the most talented team in the National League but somehow always came up short of a World Series title, prompting the famous rallying cry of Wait 'til next year!. Kahn, the son of Jewish immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn, tells of his father's and grandfather's love affair with baseball, against the wishes of his highly-cultured mother, who saw baseball as a waste of time and wanted him to take up an honest profession. Still, the lure of Ebbets Field was too much, and when Kahn realized at an early age that he would never be the Dodgers' first baseman, he channeled his love of sports in other directions. He explains how he came at a very young age to inherit the prestigious job of covering the Dodgers for the Herald Tribune for the 1952 and 1953 seasons, both of which ended with excruciating losses to the New York Yankees in the World Series.
After moving on to a job with the newly-founded Sports Illustrated in 1954, Kahn was no longer covering the Dodgers when they broke their historical jinx by winning the 1955 World Series, or when they heart-breakingly left Brooklyn for the richer pastures of Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
However, in 1970, Kahn, looking back on how much he had learned in his two years spent with the team, decided to trace back its former members to interview them about their memories, but also about life before and after baseball. The book portrays them as ordinary men who worked in a very demanding profession and not what is usually portrayed as a boy's diversion. Throughout the book, the theme of growing up and of the passage from boyhood to manhood is emphasized, telling a story that extends well beyond the baseball diamond.