BUMS (1984) is a project that author/compiler Peter Golenbock worked on for so long the advance money ran out and he was forced to rely for a while on the generosity of family and friends. It's good that Golenbock lavished much time and effort on this oral history of the Brooklyn Dodgers, for BUMS is one of, if not THE greatest bio of a single baseball team.
The story begins in 1883 with Charley Ebbets, a program and ticket seller at the Brooklyn park who found a way in 1902 to take control of the franchise even though he had no money. Doing so prevented a Dodger exodus and relocation to Baltimore, thus Ebbets was forevermore a saint in his town. The sad demise of "Dem Bums" came at the hands of Walter O'Malley. Even after years of being the National League's most profitable team and following Brooklyn's 1955 World Series victory over the hated Yankees, O'Malley still schemed to abandon little Ebbets Field and move to wherever he could get the sweetest deal. Los Angeles came through in a huge way. Land, a free stadium and parking, and significant tax breaks sealed the deal and after the final game of the '57 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers were no more.
What comes between in this 451 page book is an amazing story of struggle, success, heartbreak and triumph, all told by the players themselves, plus surviving members of the front office, sportswriters and especally devoted fans. For Brooklynites, their Dodgers weren't just a ballteam, they were a way of life. Some of the more incredible details are fan-related, like the Yankee rooter who was murdered by a Brooklyn fan in a Queens, NY bar right after the second game of the '56 World Series, or another man that in 1951 dropped dead when he heard Bobby Thomson's "Shot heard 'round the world" on the radio. This home run off relief pitcher Ralph Branca completed the Giants' improbable late-season surge, and victory over the Dodgers in a three-game playoff.
Often one player's story is told by teammates, but he stll gets the final say. Sprinkled thoughout are page-sized b&w portraits of whoever is being discussed. The tragic Pete Reiser, amazing Jackie Robinson, beloved Pee Wee Reese, hard-luck Don Newcombe and so many others are here recalling moments from when they were young and Brooklyn had a great baseball team.
I read BUMS 30 years ago and loved it, reread it recently and loved it even more. If you're a fan of the classic baseball era, this one's an absolute must!
Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers contains a lot of new info, but also omits some that would be of interest to the reader. I was 6 years old in 1941 when the Dodgers won their first pennant in 21 years, after spending most of the intermediate years deep in the second division. Everyone in Brooklyn,where I lived, was excited about the Dodgers except for my father who couldn't have cared less. I got my information from my uncle and my older friends. In mid 1942, my uncle was drafted, and in early 1943 we moved to Queens,where I didn't have any older friends. In the spring of 1945 I dicovered the Dodger radio broadcasts with Red Barber and Connie Desmond on WHN. I listened to all broadcasts, and starting in 1948 all games on TV; except for the months of July and August when I was sent to camp. Given this experience , I was most interested in the heroes of '41 and '42 and what players did in ''43, '44, and the summer of '45. The book has a lot of interesting info, especially on Kirby Higby, who was a big winner in '41, and after the war came back to pitch wery well for the Dodgers in '46. But it doesn't contain much on Whitlow Wyatt, who was the ace of the '41 and '42 teams and of Durocher's awful handling of him. In the summer of '42, Wyatt was pitching in a 1-1 game with the Cardinals going into the 15th inning. He told Durocher that he was tiring and losing speed on his fastball, and asked to be relieved. Durocher called him a quitter and sent him back in. He gave up a run and the Dodgers lost.Though they won 104 games, they lost the pennant to the Cardinals by 2 games. After the season Durocher blamed Wyatt, publically calling him a quitter. I would have likes to have read about Dixie Walker's marvelous hitting in '44 and his competition with Musial for the batting title. More on outfielder Augie Galan who also played well at first, second, and third, while hiting over 300 every year. And more on Goody Rosen, who led the team in hitting in '45, while playing outstandingly in center field. Errata:Ferrell Anderson started the 1946 season at catcher. Bruce Edwards came up in mid-season.
I wasn't born until 1952 and lived in Queens my first 10 years, so I never knew the Brooklyn Dodgers. But my father grew up in Brooklyn as a Dodgers fan, and this book helps me see why they were important to him.
As someone who loved the Brooklyn Dodgers as a kid, this is fantastic reading. The heroes of my youth come alive as real people in this book. For any baseball fan, but especially for those who loved the Dodgers of the late 1940s and the 1950s before going to L.A.
I grew up in Brooklyn and was as naive as some of the others who were interviewed. The level of History of those times suprised me. That Casey Stengle was almost a Dodger manager, that my old nemisis the Giants Leo Durocher was part of the construction of great Dodger teams. That the Yankees GM McFail was part of the original Dodger turn around. It was all factually amazing and beyond that, the book made me see a very nuanced view of the people from Lippy Leo, to Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo and others. I couldn't put the book down.
To tell the truth, I haven't read this book, but got it for a birthday present for my 99-year-old father, who still reads and is a lifelong Dodger fan (living in New York City, then moving west to LA when the Dodgers did). He loved it! The book might not be interesting to younger (under 60) readers.
I grew up in the 50's & learned to love the Dodgers. Billy Herman's nephew lived next door to me in Indiana so we obviously were a force against the Yankee kids in the neighborhood. I love the "Oral History" written by Peter Golenbock. It's very good stuff. Thanks..
This was a rare book among the myriad of others about Baseball. This book includes the fans and the impact that the Brooklyn Dodgers had on them. Peter Golembock goes far above merely giving the facts about the Dodgers existence, he gives the reader the feeling of sitting in Ebbets Field, and listening to the Dodgers Symphony. A must have for any true Fan of the game