The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

Article excerpt

The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. Edited by Lyle Spatz. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press & the Society for American Baseball Research, 2012. Pp. xi, 380. $26.95.)

The Brooklyn Dodgers made history in April 1947. Editor and author Lyle Spatz caught the moment and the significance.

   Of the several thousand team-seasons in baseball history, only a
   select few stand out, and only a handful might be said to have
   national appeal. Foremost among those with such national appeal is
   the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, the first racially integrated Major
   League team of the twentieth century.

   The addition of Jackie Robinson to the 1947 Dodgers changed not
   only baseball but also the nation ... (xii).

That being said, Spatz goes on to write: "Robinson, however, was just one member of that memorable and iconic club. This was a team that had many great players on its roster, some at the beginning of their careers and some at the end. But the biggest story of the season was Jackie Robinson."

Dodger broadcaster Red Barber, who was initially hesitant about integrating the team, wrote, "[W]herever Jackie played, he drew large crowds." He was the biggest attraction in baseball. During their pennant-winning seasons, the Dodgers drew record crowds at home and on the road for single games and the season.

All that was true, but this was an amazing team with great players at every position and on the bench as well. Then there was the feisty, outspoken, and irascible manager, Leo Durocher, who managed nary a game because he was banned by Commissioner Albert B. …