For some reason, Dodger blue runs deep in my veins. I remember visiting the ballpark with my dad as a toddler, looking wide-eyed into the crowds of people who gathered to watch men hit a ball with a stick. We always sat in the outfield where tickets were cheaper and the true fans gathered like family to eat and chat about their team. One of my first beloved toys was a mini Dodger baseball bat that I carried with me wherever I went.
So it seemed mildly appropriate for me to pick up a book uncovering a tumultuous time in Dodger history, namely, their controversial move from Brooklyn’s Ebbet’s Field to Los Angeles’ Chavez Ravine. But more than that the move revolved around one of baseball’s most controversial owners in Walter O’Malley. In a time when war veterans were adapting back to normalcy and baseball began to embrace it’s role as America’s great sport, O’Malley was a savvy lawyer and a devoted Brooklyn Dodger fan. He was surrounded by moral, hard-nosed men who knew the game but O’Malley was a visionary, and innovator that began night games and ushered baseball to the world of radio and television.
If there ever was a man who changed the game of baseball, it was Walter O’Malley. As one reviewer put it, “From 1947 through 1966, the Dodgers won 10 pennants and four World Series and they did both on the east coast and the west coast. The Dodgers are the team that finally broke the color barrier when Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1947, and the Dodgers joined the San Francisco Giants to introduce major league baseball to the state of California. All of these things, and more, happened on Walter’s watch.” It was Walter O’Malley who brought baseball to the west coast and it was Walter O’Malley who would bring great pride and culture to the city of Los Angeles.
Using never-before-seen documents and candid interviews with O’Malley’s players, associates, and relatives, Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael D’Antonio does a masterful job of capturing the “uniquely intimate portrait of a man who changed America’s pastime forever.” D’Antonio’s writing style is smooth and easy to read, taking a tremendous amount of information and sifting through it to present a stunning piece of literature. I found myself looking forward to reading this book at all hours of the day—it was truly a joy to read.
Clearly, sports history adds to the joy of watching sports. True sports fans know that a proper knowledge of history builds suspense or anticipation for the future (i.e. Cubs, Cleveland, etc.), but even more the people involved in sports history can greatly impact the landscape of the world in general. “Forever Blue” is a prime example of how one person played with societies affections for one team, and brought a booming baseball culture to a region of the world that would desperately need and embrace it. If you’re looking for a fun read this summer or you’re just looking to broaden your knowledge of sports in general, I would highly recommend this book.