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Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball Hardcover – July 3, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Remarkable detail and inside stories never before printed, thanks in large part to a series of interviews with key figures of that time...compelling and entertaining." -- Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"Bushville Wins! breezily recounts garrulous tales of a team embraced by its new hometown. John Klima paints colorful portraits of Eddie Mathews and drinking buddies Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, Bob Buhl -- the team that beat the hated New York Yankees for Milwaukee's first and only World Series championship." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"(Klima) tells a great story well, makes a dead era vivid and focuses on what really mattered about a wonderful team. The Braves may have won just once, but they humbled a dynasty, brought pride to the provinces and reshaped baseball's geography. There are teams that won more but few that did half as much." -- The Wall Street Journal

"Some books are just fun to read. Bushville Wins! is one of them. There are lots of good stories and Klima tells them with enthusiasm -- I never heard about the four 'a--hole buddies!' -- The Madison Capital Times

"John Klima spins a wonderful tale.I may seem overly enthusiastic, but my reactions is genuine -- this is the single best book about the Braves franchise written today".-- TalkingChop.com

“[Klima] tells a great story well, makes a dead era vivid and focuses on what really mattered about a wonderful team. The Braves may have won just once, but in so doing they humbled a dynasty, brought pride to the provinces and helped reshape baseball's geography. There are teams that won more championships but few that did half as much.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“A veteran baseball writer chronicles the unlikely triumph of big-league baseball's first small-market team… A rollicking read that captures the spirit of the team, the city and a unique moment in baseball history.” ―Kirkus

“Bushville hits the sweet spot of my childhood, the year my family moved to Wisconsin and the Braves won the World Series against the Yankees, a team my Brooklyn-raised dad taught us to hate. Thanks to John Klima for bringing it all back to life with such vivid detail and energentic writing.” ―David Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author of Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered

“An irresistible tale, beautifully told, about one of the most colorful - and neglected - underdog champions in baseball history. Bushville is a winner.” ―Mark Frost, New York Times bestselling Author

“Screwballs, sluggers and beer-swiggers? Those are my kind of people, and this is my kind of book. Bushville Wins! is captivating from beginning to end, a dramatic story told with marvelous writing and meticulous research. Highly recommended.” ―Jonathan Eig, New York Times bestselling author of Opening Day

“One of baseball's finest, and most overlooked, seasons finally gets the chronicle it deserves. Thoroughly reported and elegantly written, Bushville recaptures a time and place--1950s Milwaukee--with loving detail. Except perhaps for Yankees fans, baseball lovers will want to keep Bushville on their bookshelf.” ―Cait Murphy, author of Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History

“Klima (Willie's Boys) weaves the team's "sense of destiny" with a Milwaukee fan's obsession and a journalist's eye in relating this "David versus Goliath" baseball saga that avoids the braggadocio of others of its ilk.” ―Publishers Weekly

From the Author

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." 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250006074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250006073
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up in the fifties and followed baseball with a passion. I, like many kids at the time collected baseball cards and I had the facts and figures memorized from the backs of thousands of those cards. I played baseball through college and still play adult softball today. Therein lies the rub. I found a number of factual or intuitive errors in the book, mostly in the chapters dealing with the 1957 World Series. Errors of this type bother me, because it makes me wonder about the rest of the reporting that I am unfamiliar with. I know, for example, that Gene Conley threw right-handed, not left-handed. I also know Tom Sturdivant threw right-handed, not left. And I know that a second baseman cannot range to his "left behind the bag." In at least one case these kinds of factual errors led the author to make assumptions that could not have been true (for instance that left-handed batting Frank Torre hit so well against left-handed pitchers that Braves manager Fred Haney started him against Sturdivant). Oops! True if it had been Whitey Ford, but not Sturdivant.

Had I not bumped into these errors in the last third of the book, I would have given this book a higher rating, because up to that point Klima's writing was simply wonderful. Case in point, I don't know if there has ever been a better analysis of Brave owner Lou Perini's role as a baseball visionary, or in his special care in looking out for and welcoming Hank Aaron.

If during the second printing of this book, an editor goes through this book with a discerning eye to remove the factual and interpretive errors, this is a five-star book in every way. And to those of you that might think that I am nitpicking, I remind you that a brain surgeon can't be mostly right.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After I recently saw a review of this book in the Wall Street Journal, I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle. As a former Milwaukee boy who was seven years old when the Braves won the World Series, I was not disappointed. Of course, I didn't know about beer drinking and all night partying at that age and I sure didn't think my hometown was Bushville. What I did know is that the Braves were my team and I loved going to County Stadium to watch them play. Having them win the '57 Series (and beat the hated Yankees) was frosting on the cake.

Being only seven at the time and not necessarily being a student of baseball history, I cannot critique the book based on its accuracy. I do remember, for example, that the Journal was the evening paper in Milwaukee, not the morning one, so I am sure there might be a few factual errors elsewhere. Nonetheless, I found Mr. Klima's book to be a wonderful recounting of a different time in America before the internet and 24 hour news cycle. It was a time when baseball writers would drink with the players all night yet keep their secrets to themselves. Good or bad, it was a gentler, more innocent time that I frequently long for.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who grew in Milwaukee or simply wants to read a tale of a baseball team that came together at just the right team under an owner and manager who were ahead of their time. I had never given thought to the fact that Lou Perini was a pioneer who blazed the way for the Dodgers and the Giants to move West. I also learned many more interesting stories but I will leave the readers to find those for themselves.

It was a great read and definitely worth buying.
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I loved this book. I grew up in the Boston area a dedicated braves fan. That wasn't easy outnumbered ten to one by Red Sox followers. When they moved to Milwaukee it was a devastating blow, but I followed them loyally through the newspapers after that. This book brought back so many old memories. I still remember the last inning of the fourth game in excruciating detail. When Mathews hit that home run I was in seventh heaven. I fancied they could hear me cheering in Milwaukee.

There was much in the book I never knew - the dreary history of the early Braves,
Lou Perini's purchase of the club, the economics that precipitated the move to Milwaukee, the arrangements that Mr. Perini made with Frank Miller, the urgent desire of the fans in Milwaukee to have a big league team, the hostility of the sports writers, the politics with the league and the phenomenal support of the public. The wild partying and drinking of some of the players was a revelation. I had thought they were knights in shining armor. I had never heard any of that "Bushville" talk, though. I don't recall anyone here deriding Milwaukee. On the contrary people here were enormously impressed by the support the people their gave the Braves.

So many memories! It was wonderful to savor all over again that glorious year.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't tell you how many fond memories John Klima rekindled as a result of his painstaking research and fine writing. I'm 62 and that 1957 season is one of my first memories of baseball. Klima splendidly captures that team, the era, Milwaukee and its ravenous fans like a slick 6-4-3 double play. Nicely done! Klima writes like a dream. Even his game story coverage sizzles -- 55 years after deadline. If you like baseball, this book is a welcome addition to your library. But it's more about an era, the opening of baseball to the Midwest and beyond, the visionaries who created the Milwaukee Braves. It's a home run.
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