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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 Audio CD

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 37 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Rehabilitation of Walter F. O'Malley 26 April 2009
By W. C HALL - Published on
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. O'Malley earns plaudits for his vision in bringing baseball to the west coast, for building a ballpark that's still considered one of the best, for supporting the player's early unionization efforts; and for his leadership of the game through times of turmoil. If O'Malley was guilty of anything, D'Antonio seems to conclude, it was destroying the myth that professional baseball was a sport, not a business (and in his view that's not entirely a bad thing).

O'Malley finally earned a plaque in the baseball Hall of Fame last year. Hamill still wasn't convinced that he deserved absolution, and this volume isn't likely to win him over either. But other fans may be persuaded to rethink their distaste for O'Malley.--William C. Hall
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
D'Antonio's FOREVER BLUE take us behind the headlines to the story of the people 14 Dec. 2009
By Cyrus Webb - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have always felt that the true test for a writer is to take us beyond what we think we know about a subject, and reveal something that makes it more than a story and something more real. Michael D'Antonio has achieved this feat with FOREVER BLUE. Whatever you thought you knew about the players involved, the book takes you into dimensions that make the story more about people and how actions can set in motion a course that would have ripple effects for years to come. Bravo!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
It was victory in defeat! 10 April 2009
By jasby - Published on
Format: Hardcover
No one ever beat Robert Moses but Walter O'Malley was certainly a winner in the contest that pushed him out of his beloved Brooklyn. I was a Brooklyn Dodger fan as a kid. The book was slow in capturing me, but it did happen in chapter six which recapped the 1951 pennant race. From that point I was totally involved. D'Antonio was very kind to O'Malley and the O'Malley family. Perhaps, too kind. This is certainly a book worth reading if you are interested in baseball history. You get a glimpse into the politics of New York and the incomparable Robert Moses. Moses is a subject of study all to himself. See THE POWER BROKER by Robert A. Caro.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A one-sided view, but a good book 29 May 2012
By Robert A. Byrne - Published on
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. O'Malley wanted the government to acquire land in Brooklyn (at much less cost than he would have to pay privately), whereupon he would fund and build a new stadium. Robert Moses, the most powerful politician in New York City, wanted to use the site for a different purpose. He preferred a site in Flushing Meadows, where Shea Stadium would be built a few years later. O'Malley wasn't interested.

In their fields, both men largely always got what they wanted. O'Malley had complete control of the Dodger organization and was an influential voice among the owners. Robert Moses was an appointed, not elected official, but he made the decision on highways, bridges and public housing projects. That meant big projects went through him.

Some put the blame on O'Malley, painting him as a greedy millionaire who betrayed a community and stole the Dodgers. Others point the finger at Moses, whose out of control ego wouldn't let him compromise and forced O'Malley to accept Los Angeles' offer. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, though the moderate viewpoint seems scarce. This book is very much pro-O'Malley. Which is not surprising, since the author had access to materials in the O'Malley family archives. That's not to say it's all wrong. But the reader does come away seeing O'Malley as a businessman, faced with an untenable situation, offering a reasonable solution but being rebuffed by a power mad politico. Essentially, Moses forced him to reluctantly move his asset to California.

Keep in mind this was happening in the mid-fifties and city-team stadium battles hadn't yet become the norm. This was relatively new territory. Both men used the press and the political process to their advantage. O'Malley threw down the gauntlet when he sold Ebbets Field to a private developer in 1956. The team could stay for a few more years, but there was no doubt a new stadium had to happen. The question became, "Where?" The book indicates that Los Angeles lobbied hard for O'Malley, who consistently put them off, saying he wanted to stay in Brooklyn. But he kept his options open and when he finally accepted that Robert Moses wasn't going to give in to him, the owner packed up his toys and went to his new home.

All was not easy-peazy for O'Malley once he arrived in LA. The team initially played in cavernous Memorial Coliseum (current home of USC football) and he faced legal challenges that could have left him without a new stadium. Video footage of poor Hispanics being evicted from Chavez Ravine so that O'Malley could have his stadium survives to this day. BTW, this is favorably explained in the book and a good example of the pro-O'Malley view it takes.

One thing I really liked about his book is the look at gives at the pre-O'Malley Dodgers and how he went from a complete outsider to owner. O'Malley and Moses both had it within their power to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn. But neither chose a path that led there. In 1957, The Kansas City Athletics (once based in Philadelphia, soon to be playing in Oakland) were the farthest west a team had to go. In 2012, there are ten teams further west than KC (home of the Royals). Baseball was changed when the Dodgers and Giants moved west.

The Giants, owned by Horace Stoneham, are an important part of the story. Baseball wanted a second team to move so that the Dodgers would have a geographical rival, as well as giving visiting teams more games when they flew all the way to Los Angeles. However, the book doesn't give much attention to the Giants: this is the Dodgers' story.

Forever Blue is a good book. I'd guess that the picture it paints is rather incomplete, really just giving Walter O'Malley's side of events. But I believe it does tell a significant part of the story and it does convey what an emotional issue it was. I am looking for another book on the subject with a different slant to get a more balanced overall picture of things, but I liked this one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Walter O'Malley was a Bum, Part 2 8 Jan. 2011
By WAYNE B TIETZ - Published on
Every book that I have ever read on the subject of the Dodgers moving to LA has always overlooked one thing. Why would the city of LA give a baseball team over 300 acres of land plus over $4 million dollars for road access? They basically bribed O'Malley to come to LA. I"ve not aware of to many politicians giving away anything for nothing.Would anybody be surprised if the politicians from LA received the contracts to build the Dodgers Stadium? This subject was not mentioned in this book, nor in any other book written on the subject of the Dodgers moving to LA.I realize the Dodgers moved out of Brooklyn many years ago and most people probably don"t care anymore, but i still think a book such as this should of found out who got the contracts to build Dodgers Stadium.
As far as that nonsense that O'Malley did not want to play inside a stadium that was owned by the government. If the city of LA would not of bribed him like they did, the Dodgers would still be in New York today, having played in Shea Stadium all these years.
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