The Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s were unique to baseball in the sense that, in addition to breaking the color barrier by adding Jackie Robinson to their infield in 1947, they went on to become baseball’s first truly integrated team by adding additional minority players on a regular basis. By 1955 Robinson had been joined by Roy Campanella, Sandy Amoros, Jim Gilliam and Don Newcombe, all major contributors to the Dodger’s success on the field. Interestingly enough, these players were part of the team that finally beat the more conservative New York Yankees to bring the championship to
Thomas Oliphant, son of a World War II veteran who found it difficult to work because of the illnesses he suffered as a result of his service years, was an only child whose mother worked as a legal secretary to support the family. His parents were originally from the
Baseball fans, especially those who live and die with their teams each day for six months of the year, will see themselves clearly in the scenes described by Oliphant as he and his father watch the Dodgers shut out the Yankees 2-0 in game seven on a little black and white television set. They will recognize the nerve-wracking anguish of watching the other team put runners on base with no one out and their heavy hitters coming up. They will understand how difficult it is to forget that feeling of impending doom even when their team has a small lead going into the late innings. And they will certainly understand the agony of watching their team maintain that lead when it comes time to count the remaining outs they need to get on just two hands.
Oliphant has written a book about a team’s relationship to its fans and to its city and neighborhood. The book is not perfect by any means. Even avid baseball fans are likely to grow weary of some of the game-by-game detail that Oliphant includes in his section on the World Series leading up to the 1955 season, for instance. But those same readers will be so much in sync with Oliphant, his parents and everyone who celebrated on the streets of
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