The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History

The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History

The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History

The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History

Synopsis

First published in 1945 as part of the acclaimed Putnam series of team histories, Frank Graham's colorful chronicle presents the Brooklyn Dodgers in "all their glory and all their daffiness" from the team's beginnings as the Atlantics in 1883 through 1943, with a short summary of the 1944 season.

In his foreword, Hall of Fame sports writer Jack Lang writes that "in an era that produced for New York sports fans such outstanding sportswriters as Grantland Rice, Sid Mercer, Bill Slocum, Bob Considine, and Tommy Holmes, one of the very best was Frank Graham, whose columns appeared in the New York Sun and later the Journal-American."

Graham covers every aspect of the Dodgers-games, fans, players, managers, executives. And these Dodgers produced their share of legends: Wee Willie Keeler, Mickey Owen, Dazzy Vance, Babe Herman, Charles H. Ebbets, Wilbert Robinson, Charles Byrne, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher, Zack Wheat, Burleigh Grimes, Steve McKeever, Ed McKeever, Larry MacPhail, Max Carey, Dixie Walker, Branch Rickey, Dolph Camilli, Hugh Casey, Nap Rucker, Van Lingle Mungo, and the voice of the Dodgers, Red Barber.

Dealing with the various executives, Graham notes that in the beginning, Charles Ebbets did everything from selling tickets and scorecards to helping out in the front office. In the 1930s, the inept Dodgers provoked laughter until Larry MacPhail moved from Cincinnati to Brooklyn in 1938; one year later, the Dodgers were contenders. When MacPhail departed for the Army after the 1942 season, Branch Rickey succeeded him. Rickey's scouts signed every youngster who could hit, run, or throw, even though many of them were headed for the war. "When they came back in 1946," Lang explains, "Rickey had cornered the market on the nation's young talent-more than six hundred ballplayers."

This history of the Brooklyn Dodgers contains eighteen black-and-white illustrations.

Excerpt

In an era that produced for New York sports fans such outstanding sportswriters as Grantland Rice, Sid Mercer, Bill Slocum, Bob Considine, and Tommy Holmes, one of the very best was Frank Graham, whose columns appeared in the New York Sun and later the Journal-American.

A masterful storyteller, Graham had an edge over all his worthy competitors. He had a photographic memory. Long before sports writers began bringing tape recorders into the dugouts and dressing rooms, Graham could stand and listen to a manager or a ballplayer while writers around him kept scribbling in their notebooks. Graham rarely, if ever, took notes, but his columns the next day would record word for word what had been said just as it had been said. It took his opposition a while to realize Graham’s gift.

Of all the writers who covered the New York and Brooklyn sports scene in the 1920s and for several decades after, none was better qualified to write a history of the Dodgers than Frank Graham. Not only did he have a great feel and a love for the game of baseball but his interests included the history of the game and the people in it, both the players and the executives.

Although his basic “beats” in the 1920s and 1930s were the New York Giants and New York Yankees, his passion for baseball included close observation of the comings and goings of the Brooklyn Dodgers, their players and their owners alike.

In this history of the Dodgers, Graham traces the origin of the club back to the nineteenth century when they were known as the Atlantics. They were recognized as national champions in 1864 and again in 1866. It was this team that in 1870 ended the sixty-five-game winning streak of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first professional team. They did it on June 14, winning 8–7 in extra innings.

In their early years, the ball club was like a band of gypsies, moving from one park to another in Brooklyn and constantly searching for backers with fresh cash to keep the team going. The genesis of the Dodgers, as they would later come to be known, was when Charles Ebbets, a New York City drafts-

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