Brooklyn's Dodgers: The Bums, the Borough,
and the Best of Baseball, 1947-1957
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title:Brooklyn's Dodgers: The Bums, the Borough,
and the Best of Baseball, 1947-1957; by Carl E. Prince;
Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-511578-3; 202 pages;
paperback; US$12.95, Can$19.50
Reviewer: A. T. Connellan, "Of the available books on the
subject, this may be the best choice to satisfy your interest."
Jackie Robinson, An American Hero
In this year of the mythologizing of Jackie Robinson, Carl
Prince's even-handed analysis of the man who cracked
the racial barrier in Big-league baseball is just one of several
new books and re-releases on the subject.
Robinson has been portrayed by some as a white knight
(no pun intended) who led the downtrodden Negro masses
out of the wilderness of the colored leagues into the
legitimacy of white baseball.
Author Prince wisely recognizes, and carefully records,
a vastly more complex and interesting story. Jack Roosevelt
Robinson was anything but a saint. He was, by all accounts,
a consummate professional baseball player with a deep-rooted
killer instinct, and an insatiable desire to win at all costs.
Robinson's patented rolling body-block was responsible for
breaking up countless plays on the basepaths, and sending
opposing players injured to the sidelines. He was a mouthy,
malicious bench-jockey who handed back the abuse he
received in kind and drove many a cracker redneck to
hopeless rage and ineffective play.
There is little doubt that Robinson was the perfect choice
by Branch Rickey to spearhead the post-war expansion
of the baseball market to America's colored population.
Rickey shrewdly recognized the economic potential of a
new source of players who would play well -- and at low
cost to the owners.
As Carl Prince leads us to discover, Rickey's selection
even possessed the right political beliefs needed to further
the cause. Jack Robinson was a confirmed Republican.
This is where Prince's tale departs from the humdrum,
for the Brooklyn Dodgers were more than a baseball team
to the denizens of the New York City Borough.
Prince comes to his task well equipped. He is a Professor
of History at New York University. The object of his
examination, a singularly unique event in American history,
has been much misunderstood, and it deserves no less
than Prince's even-handed analysis.
While treating Robinson fairly, Prince also examines the
origin, ethnic, and economic background of the Borough
that spawned the Brooklyn Dodgers or "Bums", as they
became known. The fortunes and foibles of the owners,
the players and the fans became inexorably linked and
the resulting inter-action fed the media, comics and
legislators with a motherlode of material.
Exhaustive notes, an extensive index, and two appendixes
that will settle many a barroom argument support the
author's chronicle. Carl Prince knows his stuff. This is,
at least, some of "The Best of Baseball."
Of the available books on the subject, this may be the
best choice to satisfy your interest.
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