If ever there was a figure who changed the game of baseball, it was Walter O'Malley. Criticized in New York and beloved in Los Angeles, O'Malley is one of the most controversial owners in the history of American sports. He remade the major leagues and altered the course of history in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles when he moved the Dodgers to California. But while many New York critics attacked him, O'Malley looked to the future, declining to argue his case. As a result, fans across the nation have been unable to stop arguing about him--until now.
Using never-before-seen documents and candid interviews with O'Malley's players, associates, and relatives, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D'Antonio finally reveals this complex sportsman and industry pioneer. Born into Tammany Hall connections, O'Malley used political contacts to grow wealthy during the Great Depression, and then maneuvered to take control of the formerly downtrodden Dodgers. After his defeat in a war of wills with the famed power broker, Robert Moses, O'Malley uprooted the borough's team and transplanted them to Los Angeles. Once in Los Angeles, O'Malley overcame opponents of his stadium and helped define the city. Other owners came to regard him as their guide--almost an unofficial commissioner--and he worked behind the scenes to usher in the age of the players' union and free agency.
Filled with new revelations about O'Malley's battle with Moses, his pioneering business strategies, and his relationship with Jackie Robinson, Forever Blue is a uniquely intimate portrait of a man who changed America's pastime forever. His fascinating story is fundamental to the history of sports, business, and the American West.
Although Walter O'Malley has been dead for nearly 30 years, D'Antonio's latest work is perhaps the most meticulously detailed and comprehensive account to date of the former owner of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Through research in O'Malley's letters, documents and myriad interviews with those close to him, D'Antonio (Tin Cup Dreams) presents a well-rounded portrayal of one of the most polarizing figures in baseball history: one New York writer referred to O'Malley as "one of the three worst human beings who ever lived," while a Los Angeles journalist described O'Malley as a man who "did more for baseball than any commissioner." D'Antonio paints the whole picture, starting with O'Malley's early days as a lawyer who originally began working with the club in a "troubleshooting" capacity, to taking total control of ownership in 1950. During O'Malley's tenure with the Dodgers, the team had some of its most famous moments in history-the debut of Jackie Robinson, the club's first World Series title in 1955 and, of course, the team's infamous move to Los Angeles. D'Antonio explores everything-O'Malley's business dealings, his personal relationships with Robinson and Branch Rickey, the on-the-field fortunes of the Dodgers. With D'Antonio's access to O'Malley's most personal documents, even baseball historians will find something to learn. (Mar.)
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March 18, 2009
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