Baseball, many have said, will always endure because it is the perfect game. Perfection isn't what baseball is about. Baseball will always be with us because of imperfect heroes, characters who lure us into the past and subtly and passionately capture us forever. The greatest joy I had in researching and writing this book was being carried off to a different time, but newspapers, periodicals, and books offered only a glimpse at the past. The journey couldn't have been made without the many people who graciously shared their stories with me.
For some, it is very difficult to relive the past. I want to thank those people who reached back and talked with me about another time in their lives. I especially want to acknowledge the cooperation of the Eddie Waitkus family: Eddie's son, Ted Waitkus, his daughter, Ronni Barry, and their mother, Carol; and Eddie's sister, Stella Kasperwicz. Each had a unique perspective, and they all presented their stories with passion and dignity.
I can think of no greater sacrifice a person can make than fighting for his country on foreign soil. Angelo Dolce fought side-by-side with Eddie Waitkus in the Pacific theater during World War II. Angelo is still wrestling with nightmares from his war years. I know it was not easy for him to recall and recite his war experiences. But that's just what he did, and I'll be forever grateful to Angelo.
One morning my office telephone rang, and when I answered it, I heard an unmistakable voice bark, “Theodore, this is Ted Williams. You know, Eddie Waitkus was a hell of a man. ” It was vintage, straight-up Teddy Ballgame, war hero and baseball icon. He was gracious, caring, and inquisitive, asking me more questions than I asked him. As he talked, I found myself in another time, watching the Red Sox play the White Sox at Comiskey Park, my eyes glued on number 9 in the on-deck circle as he studied the pitcher. Williams and Waitkus were contemporaries, and it was Williams who gave Waitkus a job as hitting instructor at his youth base