February 17th, 2006

Koufax

I See the Boys of Summer in Their Ruin...

"The book also says you came to bat 620 times and that was the only home run."
"Yep. You got a secret weapon like that, you don't want to go showing it around."
-- Roger Kahn and Preacher Roe


I finished a long overdue reread of The Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn's classic memoir about the men who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early fifties. The Dodgers were the best team in the National League for most of the late forties and early fifties, in large part because they were the first team to integrate, but they also seemed star-crossed. Branch Rickey, who had assembled the team, once said that luck is the residue of design, but that didn't seem to be working out for the Bums. They blew big leads down the stretch in 1950 and 51 to the Whiz Kid Phillies, and Bobby Thomson's Giants, respectively, and in the years they did win the pennant, they always wound up losing to the Yankees in the World Series. It became part of their charm. As Kahn notes, "You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat." The rallying cry of Brooklyn fans became "Wait til next year."

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