Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brooklyn Dodgers: The Last Great Pennant Drive, 1957

John R. Nordell, Jr.'s account of the Dodgers' last year in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Dodgers: The Last Great Pennant Drive, 1957, could have been an exciting baseball book. It isn't.

At the All-Star break in 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers were in fifth place in the National League, five games out of first. At the time, there were only eight teams in the National League. At one point in the season, the Dodgers were in second place, only one game out. That drive should have been an exciting story in this book. It isn't.

Instead, this book is a dry chronicle of game after game, with no suspense. It just plods along, with very little personal details about the players or the games. There were four interesting paragraphs in the book, the intimate opening to chapter 4 in which Nordell's family goes to a game at Ebbets Field. Other than that short section, this book just plods along.

The National League was comprised of all-time greats in 1957. Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Johnny Podres, Duke Snyder, Don Drysdale and Don Newcombe played for Manager Walter Alston and the Dodgers. Vin Scully was the announcer. Other National League players included Stan Musial, Hank Aaron playing for the Milwaukee Braves, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and Warren Spahn. It was the Dodgers last year in Brooklyn, and there was an exciting pennant race. It's just a shame this book fails to capture the drama of 1957.

Brooklyn Dodgers: The Last Great Pennant Drive, 1957 by John R. Nordell, Jr. Tribute Books, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-9765072-9-1 (paperback), 103p.

1 comment:

John R. Nordell, Jr. said...

As the author of Brooklyn Dodgers: The Last Great Pennant Drive, 1957, I would like to respond to Lesa Holstine’s negative review of my book. First, I was amazed to read the following remark in her review: “There were four interesting paragraphs in the book, the intimate opening to chapter 4 in which Nordell’s family goes to a game at Ebbets Field. Other than that short section, this book just plods along.” Just four interesting paragraphs in the whole book? What about the incredible baseball game that I describe after the “intimate opening” about my family? The Sporting News later called the ninth inning of that game “the most fantastic inning of the season.”

Ms. Holstine says that “this book is a dry chronicle of game after game, with no suspense.” In fact, the underlying drama of the book is the story of the Dodgers’ slow but inexorable rise in the standings as they closed in on first place during an exciting five-team pennant race in July 1957. I present the Dodger games in a play-by-play format in which the reader doesn’t know the final outcome of the contest. Attention is focused on the innings in which runs were scored by either team. Scattered throughout the book are comments by Dodger announcers, including Vin Scully, and numerous quotations from contemporary newspaper and magazine articles. There is also interesting background and anecdotal information.

For the non-Dodger games I provide the score along with the highlights and a crisp summary. A Pirates, Braves, Cubs, Giants, Phillies, Cardinals, or Reds fan, especially from that era, would enjoy reading about their team. I include an Index of the players’ names, along with their positions and team affiliations.

In the final chapter I analyze the mid-season pennant drives of the Dodgers and the Braves as well as the outcome of the 1957 National League pennant race. Close attention is also given to the major factors and personalities involved in the decision that year to move the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

Ms. Holstine doesn’t bother to mention the thirty-seven photographs in the book. Readers love photos and I have received some nice comments on them. They include a dozen photos of Dodger players, six of which are featured on the front cover. The other twenty-five include family, yearbook, magazine, and newspaper photos. Many of the photos come from Sports Illustrated, the New York Daily News, and the Time & Life archives. To see some of these photos and to learn more about the book, go to:
http://www.brooklyndodgersbaseball.com.

In conclusion, I am honored to say that my book was chosen by USABookNews.com as among its winners for the National Best Books Awards in 2008.

Please read my book for yourself.

John R. Nordell, Jr.
January 24, 2009