In the bestselling tradition of "The Boys of Summer" and "Wait 'Til Next Year," "The Last Good Season" is the poignant and dramatic story of the Brooklyn Dodgers' last pennant and the forces that led to their heartbreaking departure to Los Angeles. The 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers were one of baseball's most storied teams, featuring such immortals as ...
In the bestselling tradition of "The Boys of Summer" and "Wait 'Til Next Year," "The Last Good Season" is the poignant and dramatic story of the Brooklyn Dodgers' last pennant and the forces that led to their heartbreaking departure to Los Angeles. The 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers were one of baseball's most storied teams, featuring such immortals as Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, and Roy Campanella. The love between team and borough was equally storied, an iron bond of loyalty forged through years of adversity and sometimes legendary ineptitude. Coming off their first World Series triumph ever in 1955, against the hated Yankees, the Dodgers would defend their crown against the Milwaukee Braves and the Cincinnati Reds in a six-month neck-and-neck contest until the last day of the playoffs, one of the most thrilling pennant races in history. But as "The Last Good Season" so richly relates, all was not well under the surface. The Dodgers were an aging team at the tail end of its greatness, and Brooklyn was a place caught up in rapid and profound urban change. From a cradle of white ethnicity, it was being transformed into a racial patchwork, including Puerto Ricans and blacks from the South who flocked to Ebbets Field to watch the Dodgers' black stars. The institutions that defined the borough - the Brooklyn Eagle, the Brooklyn Navy Yard - had vanished, and only the Dodgers remained. And when their shrewd, dollar-squeezing owner, Walter O'Malley, began casting his eyes elsewhere in the absence of any viable plan to replace the aging Ebbets Field and any support from the all-powerful urban czar Robert Moses, the days of the Dodgers in Brooklyn were clearly numbered. Michael Shapiro, a Brooklyn native, has interviewed many of the surviving participants and observers of the 1956 season, and undertaken immense archival research to bring its public and hidden drama to life. Like David Halberstam's "The Summer of '49," "The Last Good Season" combines an exciting baseball story, a genuine sense of nostalgia, and hard-nosed reporting and social thinking to reveal, in a new light, a time and place we only thought we understood. "From the Hardcover edition."
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-24 The caveat about this book is that it is as much about political personalities and the social changes that post-WWII America confronted as it is about the '56 Dodgers. Still, this is one terrific read. The Brooklyn Dodgers won their only world championship in 1955; in '56 they lost the series to the Yankees; two years later, the team was in Los Angeles. "The move" is the thing that haunts the 1956 season. New Yorker writer Shapiro (The Shadow in the Sun; Solomon's Sword) dissects Walter O'Malley absorbingly, in a meticulously dead-on portrait of a man still virulently hated in the borough of churches. There are the stories of O'Malley's soft adolescence, how he became a lawyer and how he came to own the Dodgers. Shapiro tells of O'Malley's plan for a domed stadium (designed by Buckminster Fuller) and of his battles with another hated New Yorker, Robert Moses, who would not condemn land, a first for Moses; hence O'Malley could not come up with property on the cheap. There are wonderful vignettes of the Dodgers: Pee Wee Reese, the captain and the glue that held the Dodgers together season after season; the still intense Jackie Robinson and his dislike for the easygoing Roy Campanella; the sulking Duke Snider; the good-guy Carl Erskine; the enemy from the Polo Grounds who came to pitch, Sal "The Barber" Maglie; and how the team rallied to win the pennant. In a surprise, Shapiro contends that the real villain of the Dodgers move to Los Angeles was Moses because he blocked O'Malley's plan to build a stadium in downtown Brooklyn. With equal parts sport, history, politics and sociology, Shapiro's book is reminiscent of the works of Caro, Halberstam and Kahn, a volume that belongs right next to The Boys of Summer in every sports fan's library. (Mar. 18) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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