The rip-roaring story of baseball's most unlikely champions, featuring new interviews with Henry Aaron, Bob Uecker and other members of the Milwaukee Braves, Bushville Wins! takes you to a time and place baseball and the Heartland will never forget.In the early 1950s, the New York Yankees were the biggest bullies on the block. They were invincible: they led the New York City baseball dynasty, which for eight consecutive years held an iron grip on the World Series championship.
Then the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, becoming surprise revolutionaries. Led by visionary owner Lou Perini, the Braves formed a powerful relationship with the Miller Brewing Company and foreshadowed the Dodgers and Giants moving west, sparking continental expansion and the ballpark boom.
But the rest of the country wasn't sold. Why would a major league team move to a minor league town? In big cities like New York, Milwaukee was thought to be a podunk train station stop-off where the fans were always drunk and wouldn't know a baseball from a beer. They called Milwaukee Bushville.
The Braves were no bushers! Eddie Mathews was a handsome home run hitter with a rugged edge. Warren Spahn was the craftiest pitcher in the business. Lew Burdette was a sharky spitball artist. Taken together, the Braves reveled in the High Life and made Milwaukee famous, while Wisconsin fans showed the rest of the country how to crack a cold one and throw a tailgate party. And in 1954, a solemn and skinny slugger came from Mobile to Milwaukee. Henry Aaron began his march to history.
With a cast of screwballs, sluggers and beer swiggers, the Braves proved the guys at the corner bar could do the impossible - topple Casey Stengel's New York baseball dynasty in a World Series for the ages.
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Questions people ask John Klima about Bushville Wins!
Q: Did I speak to Henry Aaron?
A: Yes. I called him Mr. Aaron. What was I supposed to do, call him Hank? We talked about what Milwaukee was like in the 1950s, what the Braves were like. We talked about his relationships with Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn. We went through some of the big moments and big at-bats. It was a really productive interview and I think it shows in the book. He made his lineup better -- and he made my book better. And I didn't even have to pitch to him. (I would have walked him.)
Q: Did the Milwaukee Braves really "change" baseball?
A: Yes. Ask Los Angeles, San Francisco, Texas, Oakland, Arizona, Seattle, Kansas City, Minnesota, San Diego, Miami, Toronto, Tampa. The Milwaukee Braves proved the expansion model we know today worked: new markets, new ballparks, new fans, new TV deals. But when owner Lou Perini moved the Braves from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953, he was laughed at. Mr. Perini was vastly ahead of his time, easily by 25 or 30 years, and for this reason his vision and his team changed the game, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I know some of the fans in Milwaukee are still mad about the move to Atlanta, but the Brewers are there because the Braves were there first.
Q: Did the ballplayers really talk like this, drink like this, fight like this, or are you making this stuff up?
A: Nope. I wrote them the way they were, because Milwaukee loved them for who they were. It is an honest book. This is how ballplayers think, talk and act. I've been around them my entire career. My goal was to put the fan not in the stands -- but in the dugout or on the field.
Q: Why didn't anyone do this story before you?
A: Because after the Braves finally got over the hump in 1957, they blew it in 1958. For the Yankees to admit that they won in 1958 would mean they would have to explain what Casey Stengel was thinking when he opened his mouth in 1957. And that just ain't the Yankee way.
Q: Why do John Klima's baseball books sound so much different than many other baseball authors?
A: Because I've been in the game for a long time. I've seen it from the inside out, from top to bottom. If you want baseball literature written the way people who populate the game are, I'm your guy. I came up as a sportswriter, but I don't write like one at all. I don't use standard jargon. I don't write like every word is profound. I don't rely on strained analogies or pop culture references that have nothing to do with the subject. I also possess a far greater base of historical knowledge because I read a great deal of old material. I have many different influences that help my baseball writing, and as a result, I think my facility with language and ability to out-research others really helps the book "play up" as the scouts might say.
Q: Who else did you talk to for this book?
A: In addition to Mr. Aaron, there was Bob Uecker, Del Crandall, Red Schoendienst, Frank Torre, Johnny Logan and the families of Lou Perini and sportswriter Lou Chapman.
Q: If you were scouting Henry Aaron in 1952, what would your report say?
A: I'd hope that I got him right, then put my job on the line to say: "Best hitter I've ever seen. Easy, loose, explosive hands generate plus, plus raw power with bat control. Middle of the order hitter in the National League. Hits off front foot -- keeps hands back -- ferocious bat speed with uppercut. Naturally aggressive hitter. Rangy-bodied outfielder with physical projection and good actions. Not an infielder. Arm for RF, runs enough for CF. Should be above-average defender in best years. The rare complete package."
Klima spoke at length with Hank Aaron, who describes why Milwaukee provided the most meaningful home run and describes the impact the Milwaukee years had on his baseball career. He also shares a artfully profane interview with Bob Uecker, then just a high school kid named Bobby dreaming of one day becoming a Brave. Also with new interviews with Frank Torre, Red Schoendienst, Del Crandall, unpublished notes from Casey Stengel and Jackie Robinson, and a never-before published photo of Mickey Mantle really, really drunk.
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Book Description St. Martin's Press 2012-07-03, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Bookseller Inventory # 9781250006073B
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