Since baseball 2016 is underway here’s one of the best baseball books. There are people in Brooklyn that still do not forgive or forget that day in 1957 when they found out that Walter O’Malley moved the Bums to L.A. In 1960 Ebbets Field was razed.
Dan “Squat” Malone,so named because he’s a catcher, is the neighborhood power hitter. He’s in demand at the stickball games. His father works in the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard. Bobby Hanes is the son of a rich businessman who is also the political leader of Brooklyn Heights. Both boys have the same thing in common. They both bleed Dodger Blue.
One day in 1949 Squat spots a kid that obviously isn’t from the neighborhood. He invites him to play stickball. The pitcher resents him and nails him several times with the ball. Bobby’s had it,charges the mound and the brawl is underway. Squat breaks it up and takes Bobby home so his mother can patch him up. A lifelong friendship is born.
The years go by and at eighteen Bobby is off to the University of Michigan and Squat is headed for the Dodgers farm team in Montreal as a catcher with dreams of eventually replacing Roy Campanella. He visits Bobby at college during the winter. A tragic accident ends his hopes of a playing career.
Time goes by and Squat works for a jeweler learning the trade. Bobby is in California making tons of money and is a multi millionaire playboy. They both have lost interest in the Dodgers. Now in their forties the team is sold to a West German businessman. That awakens their Dodger Blue. Bobby sends a group headed by squat to go to West Germany and buy the team. The effort is successful.
Bobby convinces Squat to be the team GM. One day walking past Bobby’s office Squat overhears him talking with the West German businessman and realizes he had been played. He gets mad and wants to leave for Brooklyn. A stunt by Bobby convinces him to stay.
A thorn in Bobby’s side is TV reporter Oran Ellis. She’s an expert on the Dodgers and thinks Bobby will get tired of his new toy and sell the team in a year. The Dodgers are the worst team in baseball. She and Squat become friends and decide to keep their relationship on that basis.
The book follows Bobby and Squat into the 80’s. Bobby shocks the sports world by saying he’s moving the Dodgers back to Brooklyn in 1988 and also rebuilding Ebbets Field on its original spot. The tenants who live in apartment buildings there aren’t happy when they learn of plans to raze their buildings and move them elsewhere.
There’s also some funny sequences as Bobby deals with a hostile and uptight baseball commissioner as he uses his money and charisma on the other team owners to get his way. To start rebuilding the team Bobby goes to Cuba to negotiate with Fidel Castro for a top player. Meanwhile, Oran tells Squat she’s found the best pitcher since Sandy Koufax who just happens to live in Sandy’s old neighborhood of Bensonhurst.
You don’t have to be a baseball fan or even a sports fan to enjoy this book. It’s a fun story.