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
Teams that have been in existence for a long time have great histories. It is inevitable that through the passage of time some neat things are going to happen and in turn create some great traditions. The Dodgers are one such team that have that long and storied tradition. Being part of the national pastime almost from the beginning, they have created some wonderful memories through the years as well as leaving their mark on the great game we all love. One such tradition was Vero Beach, Florida. The spring training home of the Dodgers for decades, they basically made that town their own little world. Today’s book takes a look at the mark the Dodgers left on that sleepy little town in Florida.
Vero Beach in the 1940’s was a sleepy quiet little town in Florida, at least until the Dodgers arrived. Looking to save a buck and avoid segregation issues the Dodgers created their own little complex on a vacated military base. The idea of doing that at the time was unheard of, but does show how the Dodgers liked to not always follow tradition. It allowed for all the players to stay in one location and form a bond as a team, that none of the others had.
Rody Johnson has written a book that chronicles the entire existence of the Dodgers in Vero Beach. From their first spring at the crude facility through the end when the Dodgers folded their tent and moved to Arizona, you see what became Dodgertown. The book shows you how the Dodgers remodeled and expanded their facility through the years and how the local government was effected both by the Dodgers and other businesses that called Vero home. It also shows the results of the growth of Vero Beach had, because the Dodgers called that town home. Being more than a spring training complex you also get to see the operations the Dodgers had there pretty much year round that helped the economy of the area grow.
This is an in-depth book that shows how a team that you really only thought of as a spring training tenant really was a participant in the town all year. If you are not familiar with the Dodgers spring training operations, as I wasn’t, you will be surprised at the magnitude of their facility. It was called Dodgertown for a reason, and this book shows the reader that it really was warranted.
Dodgers fans will enjoy it as well as all baseball fans. It shows a cool operation that was a big part of the teams history, and the likes of something we may never see again of this magnitude.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University Press of Florida
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
Sometimes in the media world they follow their own set of rules. I have always heard that when the legend is more interesting that the truth……..you print the legend. It’s amazing to me with all the technology we have and the ability to delve into information, that we still accept the legend. Todays book takes us deep beyond the legend………
Campy-The Two Lives of Roy Campanella
By:Neil Lanctot-2011 Simon & Schuster
Everyone that reads this blog is enough of a fan to be familiar with Roy Campanella’s Dodger career on the field. His Hall of Fame career speaks for itself and of course the tragic ending to his famed career as well. What I often thought was lacking was an in-depth glimpse in to the man himself and what lied behind the curtain.
Neil Lanctot took a big swing at Roy Campanella, the man, and hit a home run. The book starts out giving an in-depth look at Campanella’s upbringing in Philadelphia. Being from Philadelphia I never realized he was a native son. Perhaps that was my oversight, or maybe something that Campanella would rather forget. You also get a good look at his Negro League career and how it molded him as a player. You can see how these two areas shaped the man that we saw out on the field.
Next, you move on to the Major League portion of Campy’s career and see the struggles he faced both on and off the field. You also get details of how he was being considered for Jackie Robinson’s place in history, breaking the color barrier. You are shown the differences between the two men and how Branch Rickey figured each would fare under such immense pressure. In the end you see why Robinson was the better choice for that job, and how the difference in personalities eventually led to friction between the two men.
Finally you see the actions that led up to Campanella’s career ending accident. You learn a lot of new details that show he may not have been the person we all assumed he was. You see him coping with life after the accident and how it affected those around him. Like I said above, when the legend is more interesting than the truth……print the legend. This is the first time I have read a book that shows Campanella, flaws and all.
The book is well thought out and detailed. If you are a Dodgers fan and like the image you have of Campanella, this might not be the book for you. If you would like to read a book about a man who is as flawed as the rest of us you will really enjoy it. Sometimes you gain some respect when you realize your heroes are regular people with their own personal demons, just like the rest of us.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Simon & Schuster