5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Good Book, Terrible Title,
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This review is from: Once a Bum, Always a Dodger: My Life in Baseball from Brooklyn to Los Angeles (Hardcover)
Despite its awkward title, Drysdale's autobiography is an enjoyable read, but even the first-person narrative doesn't save this memoir from blandness. Although Drysdale was both a fireballer and something of a fireball in personality (at least on the field), he comes across here pretty much as a generic athlete. Unlike Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," this book doesn't project a distinctive, personal voice. The memoir rambles along entertainingly enough, but there's not much that's particularly memorable about it.
An interesting aspect of the work is Drysdale's description of his close relationship with Sal Maglie, who came to the Dodgers in 1956. Drysdale, who seems to have been a very naive kid when he joined the Dodgers that same year (he was only 19), reports that he learned "a lot about pitching, a lot about baseball, a lot about life" from the "great and grizzled veteran" Maglie (who was all of 39 at that point!) His hero worship of Maglie when the latter was in the twilight of his career was touching, all the more so as it seems that Maglie didn't make many friends during his brief tenure with Brooklyn.
In the last chapter Drysdale sums up some relatively recent events in his personal life, including a nasty divorce, followed by a late remarriage to a much younger woman and the birth of two children when he was in his early 50s. He goes on about how happy he is, how great his health is, despite a "meat and potatoes" diet and a fair amount of drinking, and how he expects to live a good, long life, etc., but readers today know that this didn't happen. In 1990, when the book was published, Drysdale wasn't in the middle of his life--he was near the end of it. He died of a heart attack in 1993 at the age of 56.
For died-in-the-wool Dodger fans, the book is worth a trip to the library, but not to the used book store.