I love history and I love baseball (especially Dodger’s baseball). If you appreciate either, a must-read and possible holiday purchase for you should be Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer: The Classic Narrative of Growing Up Within Shouting Distance of Ebbetts Field, Covering the Jackie Robinson Dodgers, and What’s Happened to Everybody Since.”
Many consider this work to be one of the greatest sports histories of our time. It does not disappoint. Half of the book is made up of the author’s experiences as a child raised in Brooklyn. You learn about his love for baseball, his unique relationship with his father, and his challenging career as a journalist. The second half is then devoted to interviewing each player from those storied lineups of the 1950s (decades later). You see these men in a whole new light. Their love for the game, segregation of baseball, financial difficulties, family struggles, etc. The chapters on Campanella, Erskine, and Robinson alone make the book worth the read.
I cannot relate to the Dodgers in Brooklyn, necessarily. But one of the reasons I am a Dodgers fan today is because of my father. Though I remember glimpses of the 1985 World Series that the Twins ended up winning, the first Fall Classic that I truly remember is the 1986 matchup between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox. It was during one of those games that I overheard my father tell my Grandpa Buller that he was a Dodgers fan growing up. He would talk about Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
I was bound and determined to be a Dodgers fan for life (which includes being partial for the National League, no Designated Hitter, small ball, and strong pitching). It was not too hard initially to hold to such convictions. The Los Angeles Dodgers would win a World Series just two years later. Little did I know that this would be the last Pennant I would see to date. Still waiting – twenty three years later. Maybe they are still the Bums after all.