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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

4.2 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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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 (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no doubt but that Walter O’Malley (1903-1979), known to nemeses and fans alike as “The O’Malley,” was one of the most significant forces in major league baseball (MLB) between the 1940s and the 1970s. He gained partial control of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 1940s, pushed out the two other members of the Dodger troika—including Branch Rickey—and then assumed sole ownership for the rest of his life. He supported the integration of MLB—although he did not instigate it—fought repeatedly with Jackie Robinson and never really made up, sought a new baseball stadium in Brooklyn but ran afoul of New York public works guru Robert Moses, engineered the movement of the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958, built a great baseball park with a lot of political help in Chavez Ravine after ousting Hispanic squatters, and oversaw a terrific baseball team that dominated the National League in the early 1960s.

In the process O’Malley earned the ire of the whole of Brooklyn, at least partially inappropriately, gained the admiration of movie stars and others who wanted to bask in the glory of the Dodgers as they arrived in luxury in the third inning and left before the end of the seventh, and held the fierce loyalty of such true believers as manager Walter Alston and Buzzie Bavasi. Through all of this, O’Malley created a superb organization that ensured success on the field and generally positive relations outside the lines.

But O’Malley was neither universally liked nor respected; some even considered him evil. I don’t mean the Brooklynites who still condemn him to a special place in hell for spiriting the Dodgers to the West Coast. That story is much more complex than most people appreciate. I am speaking of those inside the MLB power structure.
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