Monday, July 11, 2005

Wrong Side of the Wall

Wrong Side of the Wall by Eric Stone tells the tragic story of Blackie Schwamb, a talented baseball pitcher who was bent on self-destruction. Growing up in the boom days of Los Angeles, Schwamb was attracted to the glamour and money associated with the local gangsters. Before he even tried to make it in baseball, Schwamb associated himself with gangsters, working as an enforcer due to his size. He was probably talented enough to make it to the major league, but his drinking, womanizing and running around with gangsters ruined him. He blew games due to his drinking, didn't show up for days on end, and, finally, killed a man when he had been drinking. He lost the prime years of his career to his time in San Quentin and Folsom Prison.

Ironically, those years in prison became the highlight of his baseball career. He was a successful pitcher against teams that fielded semi-pro and pro players. But, even in prison he was beset by depression.

Wrong Side of the Wall is one of the saddest baseball stories I've ever read. Schwamb's prison career showed his potential, but he couldn't adjust to any success in the outside world.

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