Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brooklyn's Dodgers, by Carl E. Prince

I wrote a paper about discrimination in the market for baseball memorabilia, so to pad my material and get the paper to a less-laughable length, I decided to include a section about the history of discrimination in baseball in general. I went to the university library and got a few books about it, and this was one of them.

This is a book of modern history, which consists of the notion that what everyone experienced in the past wasn't really what was going on at all. This is how you get things like "Lesbian Militantism in Chaucer." I understand how this trick is somewhat necessary in helping young historians keep the wolves from the door, as it were, but it is still tedious to spend time reading something by someone who thinks he's so clever. I am thankful, though, that this book doesn't have too much of it, and while there is still some material about how women's liberation advanced during the 1950s, it's mostly him quoting others for the purposes of disagreeing.

The audience for this book seems pretty small. Prince seems to have written for the academic who is well-versed in Brooklyn Dodger history and personnel. That's not me, nor is it most people aside from Prince himself. But if you're Carl Prince, you probably would think this is a great book. Unless you're pretty familiar with ancient baseball history, you may find yourself lost when Prince casually refers to the Giants' 1951 "miracle" without further explanation of said "miracle" (or why it requires ironic quotation marks), or when he mentions Leo Durocher's 1947 suspension but leaves it to Wikipedia to tell me the details. (It turns out Durocher was riding a dinosaur to William the Conqueror's birthday party when an alien landed and turned him into a Communist. Wikipedia don't lie, son.)

Sometimes Prince pushes things too far, like when he argues that the Dodgers were more of a uniting force for Brooklyn's immigrants than other teams were for their cities' immigrants, or when he argues that the Brooklyn sports bar was unique among American sports bars. I understand liking your childhood team, but come on, they didn't cure cancer. (Wikipedia now says that I cured cancer, actually.)

Rating: 2 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.

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