Turbow: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seem: The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers
Rapoport: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks
THEY BLED BLUE is the wildly entertaining narrative of the outrageous 1981 Dodgers from the award-winning author of Dynastic, Fantastic, Bombastic and The Baseball Codes.
In the Halberstam tradition of capturing a season through its unforgettable figures, They Bled Blue is a sprawling, mad tale of excess and exuberance, the likes of which could only have occurred in that place, at that time.
That it culminated in an unlikely World Series win—during a campaign split by the longest player strike in baseball history—is not even the most interesting thing about this team. The Dodgers were led by the garrulous Tommy Lasorda—part manager, part cheerleader—who unyieldingly proclaimed devotion to the franchise through monologues about bleeding Dodger blue and worshiping the “Big Dodger in the Sky,” and whose office hosted a regular stream of Hollywood celebrities. Steve Garvey, the All-American, All-Star first baseman, had anchored the most durable infield in major league history, and, along with Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey, was glaringly aware that 1981 would represent the end of their run together. The season’s real story, however, was one that nobody expected at the outset: a chubby lefthander nearly straight out of Mexico, twenty years old with a wild delivery and a screwball as his flippin’ out pitch. The Dodgers had been trying for decades to find a Hispanic star to activate the local Mexican population; Fernando Valenzuela was the first to succeed, and it didn’t take long for Fernandomania to sweep far beyond the boundaries of Chavez Ravine.
They Bled Blue is the rollicking yarn of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ crazy 1981 season.
LET’S PLAY TWO is the definitive and revealing biography of Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, one of America's most iconic, beloved, and misunderstood baseball players, by acclaimed journalist Ron Rapoport.
Ernie Banks, the first-ballot Hall of Famer and All-Century Team shortstop, played in fourteen All-Star Games, won two MVPs, and twice led the Major Leagues in home runs and runs batted in. He outslugged Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle when they were in their prime, but while they made repeated World Series appearances in the 1950s and 60s, Banks spent his entire career with the woebegone Chicago Cubs, who didn't win a pennant in his adult lifetime.
Today, Banks is remembered best for his signature phrase, "Let's play two," which has entered the American lexicon and exemplifies the enthusiasm that endeared him to fans everywhere. But Banks's public display of good cheer was a mask that hid a deeply conflicted, melancholy, and often quite lonely man. Despite the poverty and racism he endured as a young man, he was among the star players of baseball's early days of integration who were reluctant to speak out about Civil Rights. Being known as one of the greatest players never to reach the World Series also took its toll. At one point, Banks even saw a psychiatrist to see if that would help. It didn't. Yet Banks smiled through it all, enduring the scorn of Cubs manager Leo Durocher as an aging superstar and never uttering a single complaint.
Let's Play Two is based on numerous conversations with Banks and on interviews with more than a hundred of his family members, teammates, friends, and associates as well as oral histories, court records, and thousands of other documents and sources. Together, they explain how Banks was so different from the caricature he created for the public. The book tells of Banks's early life in segregated Dallas, his years in the Negro Leagues, and his difficult life after retirement; and features compelling portraits of Buck O'Neil, Philip K. Wrigley, the Bleacher Bums, the doomed pennant race of 1969, and much more from a long-lost baseball era.