For The Playoffs: Why The Bums Really Left Brooklyn
There may yet be New Yorkers who, if asked Who Are The Three Most Evil Men of the Twentieth Century? would fast say:
Walter O’Malley…and as somewhat more than a darkly comic joke.
Among my favorite books, and I’m recommending it here as we’re approaching the end of another season, is one that lays blame for The Bums’ move from Brooklyn not at the feet and stone-cold heart of the Dodgers’ owner. Michael Shapiro’s social history, The Last Good Season, tells the day-by-day on-field tale of the Dodgers’ last Miracle Summer in Brooklyn and the intrigue behind Mr. O’Malley’s devastating, gut-wrenching decision to move the team west.
The Giants, of course, made a similar remove a year after Pee Wee, Don, Roy, Sandy, and the rest. Shapiro recounts this last, glorious Brooklyn campaign from the perspectives of all the old Dodger Greats, from Robinson, to Campanella, to Koufax, Snyder, and Newcombe…all of them.
At the same time, Shapiro lays bare in poignant detail the back-office and governmental machinations that, at one point, considered a re-do of Ebbets Field as well as the then wholly radical idea of new-stadium funding as a combined public-private venture. Could the Brooklyn shrine have been saved, could baseball in Brooklyn have been saved, had New York’s movers understood where the future lead? Los Angeles clearly ‘got it’, so it wasn’t an idea doomed to die at jump simply because too new. The real ‘bad guys’ in this saga may not be whom you imagine them to be.
This is one fast-paced, electrifying read for anyone who loves The Game as well as those interested in the origins of modern America’s urban politics.
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