Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Favorite Books: Bums, an Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers

I'm going to start this post off by saying, I know. This book does not have anything to do with children's literature, my life as a children's author, or anything else that this blog is about. I get that. However, there's more to me than children's books, and the whole purpose of the My Favorite Books series of posts is to talk about, well, my favorite books.

Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers by Peter Golenbock has been one of my favorite books since I was in  high school. For one thing, I have always been a baseball fan. My favorite team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, my parents must have thought I'd like the book and gave it to me one Christmas.

Why this is one of my favorite books.

This book traces the history of the Dodgers before they moved to LA. From 1890 to 1957, the club was based in Brooklyn. The team's history is highlighted through interviews conducted with everyone connected with the team throughout those years. Many of them were still living at the time the book was written. 

Reading the book gave me a sense of where the team came from and how it grew to be the team it is today. I learned a lot about the importance of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball and was proud that my team had been the one to make that happen.

The book also connected the history of the team with other historical events and trends, like the spread of the population from cities to the suburbs, which eventually forced the team to move out west and expand Major League Baseball beyond the Mississippi River. That appealed to my interest in history.

What I didn't know when I first read it.

I did not know much of the history of the Dodgers, other than the fact that they used to play in Brooklyn, but moved out west, which ticked everyone in New York off. So, the book taught me a lot about the history of the team and baseball in general. I guess that's obvious.

It would not be until years later that I learned this book had a local connection to me. Fast forward twenty years or so. My wife and I were expecting, and were looking for a pediatrician. It turns out that the pediatric medical group that we selected had a Dr. Golenbock.listed among its doctors. Could he possibly be related to the author, Peter Golenbock? 

Sure enough, they were brothers. Small world, isn't it?

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