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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*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