Halberstam wrote the classic baseball book, "The Summer of '49," about the pennant race battle between the Yankees and Red Sox that season.
Halberstam also wrote "The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship," a book about former Red Sox players Ted Williams, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr and their relationships after their playing careers ended.
Another book, "October 1964," chronicled the 1964 World Series between the Yankees and Cardinals.
Halberstam, a New Yorker, was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said.
The accident occurred around 10:30 a.m., and the driver of the car carrying Halberstam identified him as the victim, Foucrault said. A call to Menlo Park police wasn't immediately returned.
"Looking at the accident and examining him at the scene indicated it's most likely internal injuries," Foucrault said.
The driver of the car carrying Halberstam is a student at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and was taken to Stanford Medical Center. Two others were injured.
Halberstam spoke Saturday at a UC Berkeley-sponsored event on the craft of journalism and what it means to turn reporting into a work of history.
He was born April 10, 1934, in New York City, the son of a surgeon father and teacher mother.
After attending Harvard University, Halberstam launched his career in 1955 at the Daily Times Leader, a small daily newspaper in Mississippi. By age 30 he had won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the Vietnam War for the New York Times.
He quit daily journalism in 1967 and wrote 21 books covering such diverse topics as the Vietnam War, civil rights, the auto industry and a baseball pennant race. His 2002 best-seller, "War in a Time of Peace," was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.