From Publishers Weekly
Heidenry (The Boys Who Were Left Behind) offers a thorough if occasionally dry account of the "immortal, implausible, impossible gang of ballplayers known officially as the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals." The author draws on a wealth of books and publications to tell how a visionary named Branch Rickey invented the idea of using a farm system of minor league baseball clubs to develop talent, and then forged an unlikely, low-budget contender in a city far from the sport's Eastern power base. Rickey's team became known as the Gashouse Gang, owing to its role as a ragamuffin bunch with an indomitable spirit to whom Americans in the Depression could relate. The straightforward, detailed storytelling can make for some dull reading, particularly in the beginning, when Heidenry meticulously lays out the background of Rickey and the club. But anecdotes about the Cardinals' memorable characters, who included Leo "the Lip" Durocher, Casey Stengel, Pepper Martin and brothers Dizzy and Paul Dean, liven things up considerably. Dizzy takes center stage in the book, whether scheming new ways to get more money from management or mouthing off to the press. Baseball fans will appreciate this comprehensive look at the oddball pitcher and the team he led to glory. (Apr.)
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The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, "the Gashouse Gang," are among the best known of all baseball teams and not only because of their dramatic World Series win over the Detroit Tigers. The team was operated by Branch Rickey, who later integrated baseball by bringing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947; it was managed by future Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch; and among its notable players were Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Pepper Martin, and Ducky Medwick. Heidenry, who wrote last year's entertaining account of the St. Louis Browns' improbable 1945 World Series appearance (The Boys Who Were Left Behind), carefully researched newspaper accounts, player biographies, and baseball histories for the anecdotes and game accounts that provide the substance for another highly readable slice of baseball history. America had endured the worst of the Depression by 1934, and though times were still lean, baseball attendance was on the rise. The Gang's colorful exploits, daredevil style, and working-class bravado caught the attention of dormant sports fans. A memorable, engaging account of a great baseball team made up of many of the game's most colorful characters. Wes Lukowsky
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