Review: The Wingmen: The Unlikely, Unusual, Unbreakable Friendship Between John Glenn and Ted Williams by Adam Lazarus
During my high school years, I stumbled upon “The Kid” by Ben Bradlee Jr., a biography that immortalized Ted Williams, the Red Sox legend. As an ardent Red Sox supporter, I was already aware of Williams' extraordinary talents. In my eyes, he stands as the greatest hitter in baseball history, and one of the top five players ever to grace the game. My admiration for him is amplified when I consider the years he sacrificed for military service during World War II and the Korean War. Reading Bradlee's book cemented my affection for Williams, particularly the emotional accounts of his hospital visits and his brusque exterior hiding a deeply compassionate nature. I even have a cherished photograph of myself beside Williams’ statue at Fenway Park—a younger version of me, wide-eyed and in awe.
A few months back, when I discovered that a new Williams book was in the offing, I was ecstatic. I tweeted Adam, the author, expressing my eagerness to dive into it. Remarkably, Adam responded and sent me not one, but two copies—one for personal enjoyment and another as a giveaway for our fanbase. The book arrived on a Friday, and by Monday, I was not just prepared for our scheduled interview with Adam; I was deeply engrossed in the narrative he crafted. I could accuse my co-host Brett of neglecting to read the book despite a week’s notice, but I’ll sidestep that petty dig.
The book is an eye-opener, and not just for baseball aficionados. It reaches out to those interested in a plethora of subjects—baseball, space exploration, war, politics, and American history. It transcends the genre of a 'baseball book,' offering an intimate look at Williams, the man, not just the player. This is similar to how astronaut John Glenn viewed Williams—not as a baseball superstar, but as a humble serviceman playing shadow ball with Japanese kids while stationed in Japan.
Speaking of John Glenn, my Master’s degree in American History led me to believe I was already well-versed in his life story. However, this book expanded my understanding way beyond the trivia answer, “the first man to orbit Earth.” I was uninformed about his military exploits and his career in politics until this revelatory read.
In conclusion, this book is a must-read, and not just because Adam was a terrific interviewee. Fans are in a perpetual hunt for fresh stories and additional layers of information about their favorite stars. This book offers that rare, dual narrative on both Ted Williams and John Glenn, enriching our understanding of these iconic figures and helping us feel like we truly know them.