Time marches on, it is inevitable. No matter what you are applying a time analogy to, it is unstoppable. In baseball, a sometimes overwhelming characteristic is nostalgia. The players were better, the teams were better, the game on the field was better, the hot dogs were better, even some teams that existed were better just because they existed. The Dodgers have been gone from Brooklyn for almost 60 years, but to some degree they still live on. Ebbets Field is long gone and the last remaining Dodgers are starting to pass away, but the Bums of Brooklyn are still alive in the minds of many fans. Todays book takes a look at how the Brooklyn Dodgers were more than just a team that played in a New York neighborhood.
The Dodgers were loved by the fans of Brooklyn, possibly more than any other team in all of baseball. They were a pillar of their community and woven so deeply into it that they were almost considered part of the family by the local residents. It is not hard to understand why all these years later they are still the most popular subject pertaining to Brooklyn.
David Krell has put together a nice new book that looks at the importance of the Dodgers in Brooklyn and beyond. He starts with giving some background history about the team and its ownership. Starting from the teams birth, you see how they came to call Brooklyn home, and eventually became the tenants of Ebbets Field. You walk through the teams storied history and eventual rise through the National League. You see historical moments that happen in Brooklyn and how the team became a part of the communal fabric. The author shows the reader the financial struggles, management challenges and ownership fights that all helped shape the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The part of this book that not many other books have gone as far at looking in-depth at, is the struggles of the real world that helped shape the Dodgers fortunes. Deaths of owners, financial struggles and drastic shifts in the desires of our society have all had a hand in shaping the Brooklyn Dodgers. I have seen other books touch on these subjects, but this one goes a little further in-depth in that analysis. Essentially it is the changes after World War II in our society that effected the Dodgers the most. It wasn’t just O’Malley’s desire for a new stadium that removed the Dodgers from Brooklyn. This book walks the readers through a series of cultural events that paved the way for their exodus to Los Angeles.
There are many books out there chronicling the Dodgers existence and each has its own merits. This one as well has its own merits, but it does give the reader a little different angle at which to view the Dodgers time in Brooklyn. Baseball fans and history buffs should check this one out, you will really enjoy it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland Publishing
As they say, good things happen in three, so lets check out a third stadium book this week. Some stadiums both past and presents are icons within baseball. Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, The Polo Grounds and last but not least, Ebbets Field. Located of course in Brooklyn, it was the scene of many disappointments, but also an enduring love affair between the Brooklyn fans and their Bums. Very few connections between a team and their fans has rivaled what the Dodgers had in Brooklyn.
The Greatest Ballpark Ever, Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers
By Bob McGee – 2013 Rivergate Press
New York Baseball prior to 1958 had to be something amazing to experience. Three iconic teams within spitting distance of each other, with at least one of them fighting for a pennant each year. Each of those teams had a special place in their communities and the fans gave them their heartfelt support. The Dodgers seemed to be the strongest in their fan support and the weakest on the field. While playing in charming Ebbets Field the Dodgers always were waiting for next year. Most times next year never came but their fans stood behind them.
Bob McGee has written a very interesting book that chronicles the Dodgers time in Ebbets Field. It takes a look at all the unique factors that made Ebbets Field what it was and why it holds such a special place in baseball history. What the author also does is give in-depth coverage of the people and the history of the Dodgers during that same time period. You get stories about the building of the park and the obstacles that were overcome to create it. You also get stories about the Dodgers in the early part of the twentieth century as well as the years leading up to integration. Finally, you learn about the final years of Ebbets Field and the vacating of the team to Los Angeles.
It seems when you have a book about the Brooklyn Dodgers it is always full of integration stories and how Brooklyn changed the game. While it was the most important single event in the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers and to some degree baseball as well, it is not all their past glory. When you read some other books you might get the impression Jackie Robinson was the only thing that happened in Brooklyn in the first half of the century. This book in no way ignores the importance of Jackie Robinson, but it does also remember the other team accomplishments. This is the most comprehensive Brooklyn Dodgers history I have come across prior to Jackie Robinson’s first appearance.
This book should be a must have for the history students of the game and Dodger fans alike.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Rivergate Books
I just recently did the Orioles Encyclopedia on this blog. So there is really no need to hash through all the details of what these team encyclopedias are about. I really just wanted everyone to see that there are options out there for their favorite teams and that there may be some difference in format from team to team.
The Dodgers Encyclopedia
By:William McNeil- 2012 Sports Publishing
This encyclopedia is very impressive and Dodgers fans should take note. It covers the full history of Dodgers baseball and covers both the L.A. and Brooklyn versions of the team. It even goes as far back to tracing the teams roots before they were formally known as the Dodgers, but still existed in Brooklyn. You are getting over 150 years of history in one package.
This book sticks to the standard format of team encyclopedias. It covers players, managers, executives, rosters, broadcasters, regular season, postseason and of course special moments in team history. It covers some of the most important moments in the teams history and accompanies it with some great pictures. If this is one of your favorite teams it is worth picking up because the information contained in here is invaluable.
As I said before, the only down side with these type of books is they become obsolete very quickly. When rosters turn over each year and new players come into the fold, you don’t have all the information on the team. Hopefully new editions come out every few years, so it is not long that the fan is out of date. I have several editions of various teams in my library and they are very helpful. Me recommendation is everyone should get at least one edition for their own bookcase.
You can get this book for the nice folks at Sports Publishing
In life sometimes you find people, that no matter the circumstances, just don’t click. It could be differences in personality, belief differences, values or a host of other reasons. Todays book takes an in-depth look at Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and the relationship they had during the integration of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Jackie & Campy
By: William C. Kashatus – 2014 University of Nebraska Press
Jackie Robinson was obviously the player chosen by Branch Rickey to integrate the Dodgers. We are all familiar with Robinson so really no need to go through the history of integration here. Roy Campanella was also chosen by Branch Rickey to further integrate the Dodgers after the success of Robinson. The fascinating part about this story is that these two men were chosen to do the same job, and had such extremely different personalities.
Jackie Robinson was deeply planted in his beliefs and was very prideful.. He understood what his place in history was going to be and realized that it would lead to the opportunity to further the cause in society. Roy Campanella was a former Negro League player and understood what the cause was trying to promote. The difference was that Roy wanted to just play baseball and not be a crusader for the cause. He was never one looking to rock the boat or make a point. Both men were aware of their place in history, they just went about securing that place in different ways.
Kahatus does a very nice job in this book. He takes the approach that the reader is not very familiar with the entire process that ensued with Branch Rickey’s great experiment. He details each players background on and off the field, and the steps that Rickey walked them through prior to reaching Brooklyn. If you are very familiar or well read on baseball integration, this part may be a little tedious for you. Next the author moves to the on field activities between the Dodgers and the other teams. It shows the bigotry and events that transpired during this ground breaking time. Again it may be a little tedious for the reader if they are well versed in these events.
The most interesting part of this book I found was the dynamic between Robinson and Campanella. You see how their difference of opinion as to what their role in integration was, created friction between the two teammates and eventually led to animosity in the clubhouse. It’s an interesting look at the way two people fighting for equality and acceptance were not able to extend that courtesy to each other. It is the first time I came across this story and found it quite interesting. The chapters leading up to this section may be repetitive and found in other books, but the last section made the book worthwhile. These two men made a lasting impression and changed the game for the better and proved they were human as well. If you are not well read in the history of baseball integration this book does a great job of giving you a comprehensive picture. If you are well versed on it, all is not lost. You do get some new information that makes it worth the time to read.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Nebraska Press
When I had the thought of doing a book review blog, I figured I would stick to just doing autobiographies. I knew there were tons of those types of books out there to pick from. What I didn’t realize was that there was books on so many different facets of the history of the game. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of the books I have found, and it has allowed me to become a history student again. Todays book added some new information to my ever-growing knowledge base.
Baseball’s Peerless Semipros
Thomas Barthel-2009 St. Johann Press
I will admit before I got this book I had never heard of the Bushwicks. Happily though, through my learning process I found a very interesting story. A bunch of semi-pros, former major leaguers and negro-leaguers formed a high quality team that most competitors found, was hard to beat. Through the process of winning they also produced a form of civic pride that most residents of Brooklyn found more appealing than the professional teams of the day.
Max Rosner who was a Jewish immigrant was the owner of the Bushwicks. Through his hard work and promotion he built a local empire. He basically created one of, if not the biggest draw of the first half of the twentieth century participating in baseball. That is no small feat if you consider he was competing against the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants in the same city.
I always find it interesting that you can see where something considered an innovation back in the day was derived from. Rosner was the brainchild behind the idea of night baseball under the lights. His idea sprang forth a full five years before the Cincinnati Reds decided to give it a try. It is small innovations like that which are now part of the everyday norm in baseball.
Barthel gives you a year by year look at the Bushwicks and the triumphs and struggles they encountered along the way. One of the big things they had an issue with was finding qualified competition. The team existed in almost a no-mans land if you will. They were not major league quality but still too good to be considered amateurs. It almost looks as if they were a quality minor league team in an era before minor league baseball existed.
You really get a glimpse in to the inner workings of a baseball team before MLB ruled the world. They may not have been the big apples within the Big Apple but they were still a pretty impressive team. Books like this I always enjoy because they are definitely off of the mainstream that baseball fans normally read and talk about. History buffs will really enjoy this and each fan should take the time to read and learn something new.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St. Johann Press.