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Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles Hardcover – March 19, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Walter O'Malley has been dead for nearly 30 years, D'Antonio's latest work is perhaps the most meticulously detailed and comprehensive account to date of the former owner of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Through research in O'Malley's letters, documents and myriad interviews with those close to him, D'Antonio (Tin Cup Dreams) presents a well-rounded portrayal of one of the most polarizing figures in baseball history: one New York writer referred to O'Malley as one of the three worst human beings who ever lived, while a Los Angeles journalist described O'Malley as a man who did more for baseball than any commissioner. D'Antonio paints the whole picture, starting with O'Malley's early days as a lawyer who originally began working with the club in a troubleshooting capacity, to taking total control of ownership in 1950. During O'Malley's tenure with the Dodgers, the team had some of its most famous moments in history—the debut of Jackie Robinson, the club's first World Series title in 1955 and, of course, the team's infamous move to Los Angeles. D'Antonio explores everything—O'Malley's business dealings, his personal relationships with Robinson and Branch Rickey, the on-the-field fortunes of the Dodgers. With D'Antonio's access to O'Malley's most personal documents, even baseball historians will find something to learn. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* New York writer Jack Newfield called Walter O’Malley one of the three worst people who ever lived. The others were Hitler and Stalin. O’Malley’s transgression? He moved Brooklyn’s beloved Dodgers across the country to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. D’Antonio was accorded unprecedented access to more than 30,000 documents previously unreleased by O’Malley’s heirs. Additionally, he conducted hundreds of interviews with O’Malley’s family and associates, many who spoke about O’Malley for the first time. The O’Malley he reveals here is neither hero nor villain—sorry, Mr. Newfield—but rather an extraordinarily astute businessman and baseball visionary. After working for the Dodgers for years, O’Malley was able to buy the team but at unfavorable terms due to a struggle for control with another potential owner. He had no animus toward Brooklyn; the move to Los Angeles was his best business option. He also opened the door to baseball’s expansion from a strictly east-of the-Mississippi endeavor to a coast-to-coast enterprise. There are also revealing personal insights. For example, O’Malley’s wife essentially lost her ability to speak during their courtship. He never wavered in his devotion, and she communicated for the rest of her life through notes, facial expressions, and slight whispers. This is a wonderfully readable, insightful, and—for anyone interested in baseball history—important biography of the man who forever changed the course of the game in America. --Wes Lukowsky

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1st edition (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488566
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Besides the influence of family and growing-up experiences in small town New Hampshire I have been most affected by two people I met in college, my wife Toni and my first mentor, writer Donald Murray. Both have encouraged me to express my creativity, connect with others, and find ways to serve. They understood intuitively what I later found expressed so well by Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning. I've found that if I don't take maysellf too seriously, and add a little silliness, it's a pretty good recipe.
Today I live in Long Island, not far from the sound. I have two grown daughters, Amy and Elizabeth, who have becopme the other great influences on my life.

Customer Reviews

Long live the Brooklyn L.A. Dodgers.
Bruce B. Blatman
This is a great read for all baseball fans!
R. C Sheehy
I find the information very informative.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on April 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The writers Pete Hamill and Jack Newfield one night decided each would make a list of the three most evil people in history. When they compared the results, both lists had the same names: Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and the former owner of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Walter Francis O'Malley.

Non-baseball fans would no doubt be puzzled by O'Malley's inclusion on the list. But any lover of the game, especially a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, understood the hatred of O'Malley, who had taken the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958. In the half-century since, O'Malley has been branded a greedy villain who did more than move a franchise. He was the man who tore the heart out of Brooklyn.

Efforts by O'Malley's descendants and others to rehabilitate his reputation reach their zenith with Michael D'Antonio's new biography of O'Malley, which was produced with the full cooperation of O'Malley's children. I have read extensively in the field of baseball history, especially New York baseball history, and have encountered a lot about O'Malley, but always as a secondary character. It this volume, he takes front and center. I learned a lot about the man I didn't know before, especially his life before he began doing legal work for the Dodgers.

The O'Malley who emerges in these pages isn't a saint, but he fares far better than he does in most baseball literature. The idea that New York power broker Robert Moses was the true villain in the loss of the Dodgers isn't new--books by Neil Sullivan and Michael Shapiro also support that thesis--but it receives reinforcement here.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By anthony laface jr on March 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lets set the record straight. We all know the fact that Robert Moses was a terrible man and didn't let O'Malley get his way. Any person with half a brain can tell you that. With that said, any person with half a brain can also tell you that O'Malley was a greedy liar. Robert Moses offered the land that Citi Field sits on to O'Malley. His response, The Dodgers are Brooklyns team. How would it look if they played in Queens? tells us that The Dodgers were first or second in attendance during the 40's and 50's in Brooklyn. So to say The Dodgers didn't draw a crowd is a lie. It also tells us that at Shea Stadium with a bad baseball team, The Mets recorded between 1.5 million to almost 2 million in attendance. With a good team The Mets recorded 2.5 to 3.5 million. So if O'Malley moved the team to Queens he would have had no problem getting the attendance he was looking for. How about the fact that Nelson Rockefeller offered to buy land in Brooklyn and lease it rent free to O'Malley? O'Malley turned down that offer as well. This is far from being denied at every turn as some people like the author will try to tell you. O'Malley wanted to move the team no matter what. So what it comes down to is O'Malley not only destroyed a community by ripping its heart and soul from it. A community which has never recovered by the way. He also destroyed the community of Chavez Ravine to build his stadium. Nice guy huh? Let us not forget 1997. When The Dodgers were for sale and a commision from New York was set to buy the Dodgers for more money than Rupert Murdochs News Corp. The goal, to bring The Dodgers back home. Peter O'Malley rejected the offer saying, it would tear the heart out of the community. Hey Pete, maybe your dad should have thought about that over 50 years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
I have always felt that the true test for a writer is to take us beyond what we think we know about a subject, and reveal something that makes it more than a story and something more real. Michael D'Antonio has achieved this feat with FOREVER BLUE. Whatever you thought you knew about the players involved, the book takes you into dimensions that make the story more about people and how actions can set in motion a course that would have ripple effects for years to come. Bravo!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By jasby on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
No one ever beat Robert Moses but Walter O'Malley was certainly a winner in the contest that pushed him out of his beloved Brooklyn. I was a Brooklyn Dodger fan as a kid. The book was slow in capturing me, but it did happen in chapter six which recapped the 1951 pennant race. From that point I was totally involved. D'Antonio was very kind to O'Malley and the O'Malley family. Perhaps, too kind. This is certainly a book worth reading if you are interested in baseball history. You get a glimpse into the politics of New York and the incomparable Robert Moses. Moses is a subject of study all to himself. See THE POWER BROKER by Robert A. Caro.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Byrne on May 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Forever Blue, by Michael D'Antonio, tells the story of why (or perhaps, how) the Dodgers packed up and left Brooklyn for Los Angeles. The Brooklyn Dodgers were as integral part of their community as any baseball team has ever been. The Dodgers provided the borough with a central identity that remains unique among other baseball crazy cities.

After several decades of ineptness, Larry MacPhail came over from the Cincinnati Reds and led the Dodgers to their first World Series in twenty-one years and only the third ever. Branch Rickey succeeded the old redhead and the Dodgers played in six World Series over ten seasons; finally winning their only title in 1955. Then, after the 1957 season, Walter O'Malley ripped the heart out of Brooklyn and moved the team to Los Angeles. It was a radical move that opened up the west coast to major league baseball. Kansas City had been the westernmost team before the Dodgers and Giants arrived in southern California in 1958.

No one denies that Walter O'Malley, who had pushed Rickey out of the ownership picture, was making money from the team. O'Malley was a shrewd operator whose father had been a Tammany Hall official. But Ebbets Field, opened in 1913, was an aging grand dame. Cars had replaced Trolleys (the team's nickname was shortened from `Trolley Dodgers', referring to the fans who had to avoid being run down at the confluence of trolley tracks outside the stadium) and there was limited parking at the stadium. O'Malley didn't believe Ebbets Field would be a viable option for his team in the future. He had built a winner: now he wanted a new stadium to play in.

Therein lies the rub: there are two sides to this story.
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