The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers and Their Final Pennant Race Together

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9780767906883: The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers and Their Final Pennant Race Together

In the bestselling tradition of The Boys of Summer and Wait ‘Til Next Year, The Last Good Season is the poignant and dramatic story of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ last pennant and the forces that led to their heartbreaking departure to Los Angeles.

The 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers were one of baseball’s most storied teams, featuring such immortals as Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, and Roy Campanella. The love between team and borough was equally storied, an iron bond of loyalty forged through years of adversity and sometimes legendary ineptitude. Coming off their first World Series triumph ever in 1955, against the hated Yankees, the Dodgers would defend their crown against the Milwaukee Braves and the Cincinnati Reds in a six-month neck-and-neck contest until the last day of the playoffs, one of the most thrilling pennant races in history.

But as The Last Good Season so richly relates, all was not well under the surface. The Dodgers were an aging team at the tail end of its greatness, and Brooklyn was a place caught up in rapid and profound urban change. From a cradle of white ethnicity, it was being transformed into a racial patchwork, including Puerto Ricans and blacks from the South who flocked to Ebbets Field to watch the Dodgers’ black stars. The institutions that defined the borough – the Brooklyn Eagle, the Brooklyn Navy Yard – had vanished, and only the Dodgers remained. And when their shrewd, dollar-squeezing owner, Walter O’Malley, began casting his eyes elsewhere in the absence of any viable plan to replace the aging Ebbets Field and any support from the all-powerful urban czar Robert Moses, the days of the Dodgers in Brooklyn were clearly numbered.

Michael Shapiro, a Brooklyn native, has interviewed many of the surviving participants and observers of the 1956 season, and undertaken immense archival research to bring its public and hidden drama to life. Like David Halberstam’s The Summer of ’49, The Last Good Season combines an exciting baseball story, a genuine sense of nostalgia, and hard-nosed reporting and social thinking to reveal, in a new light, a time and place we only thought we understood.
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From the Back Cover:

"There are many things I could say about Michael Shapiro's engrossing book. But here's all you need to know before you pick it up and decide for yourself: It's about baseball. It's about Brooklyn. And it's dedicated to two guys named Lenny Wexler and Barney Karpfinger. What else do you need to know?"
-Bob Costas, NBC and HBO Sports
“Michael Shapiro tells us the parallel tales of the Dodgers’ battle with the Braves for one last pennant and Walter O’Malley’s fight with Robert Moses for a new stadium in Brooklyn. In so doing, he proves once again that the Dodgers in the 1950s were just as compelling off the field as on. It’s a fascinating story well told by a real fan.”
-Ron Rapoport, Sports Columnist Chicago Sun-Times and sports commentator for NPR’s “Weekend Edition”
"I read Michael Shapiro’s The Last Good Season in one long fascinated sitting. He certainly did his homework, and I can honestly say that this book will satisfy those skeptical about the motives behind the Dodgers’s move west. Furthermore, his account of the 1956 season reads like a novel, with a new twist or turn in every chapter."
-Buzzie Bavasi, former general manager of the Dodgers


"Michael Shapiro has written a wonderful book--it's about much more than the last season of a team of icons. Rather, it’s about nothing less than the passing of an age in America."
- David Halberstam
"Thanks for the opportunity to read The Last Good Season. Michael Shapiro certainly writes wonderfully about the 1956 Dodgers, and I enjoyed every chapter. He has given the Brooklyn fans a much better insight into what Walter O'Malley was trying to do at that time--that he was truly trying to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn. He also gives the reader the opportunity to understand what that great team itself was all about."
- Clem Labine, former Brooklyn Dodger

About the Author:

Michael Shapiro was born in Brooklyn in 1952 and lives in New York City. A professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, he is the author of four previous books: Japan: In the Land of the Broken Hearted; The Shadow in the Sun: A Korean Year of Love and Sorrow; Who Will Teach for America; and Solomon’s Sword: Two Families and the Children the State Took Away. His articles have appeared in The New Yorker and other publications.
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