I have waited quite some time for another book by Paul Dickson. In a previous blog, I discussed the virtues of his book about Bill Veeck, one of the great showmen in baseball history. You can read my blog about that book by clicking here.
I am happy to wait. Not rushing to get a book to press helps ensure that it will be more comprehensive, accurate, and of higher overall quality. To that end, it appears that Dickson has succeeded with his newest, Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son (New York: Bloomsbury, 2017).
In a review written by Edward Kosner in the Wall Street Journal (March 18-19, p. C9), entitled “The Devil at Short,” he heaps high praise upon the book by stating, “All of this contributed to the legend that Mr. Dickson has so adroitly researched, annotated, and debunked. The authenticated Durocher turns out to be even more fascinating – and impressive, in a way – than the mythical one.”
Durocher was one of the last player-managers we had in baseball. He was a shortstop by position. As a teenager, I remember that he became the manager of the Houston Astros, which was very funny to me, because he absolutely hated playing in the Astrodome when he managed other teams. And, here he was managing IN the Astrodome!
He was certainly a crafty manager. One of the great sportscasters of all time was Lindsey Nelson. In his book, Hello, Everybody: I’m Lindsey Nelson (William Morrow, 1985), I remember that he said if he had ONE game he had to win, he would pick Durocher to manage it. He believed that he might steal it, or finesse it, but he would win it. That is quite a statement to make, showing confidence in a manager who never won a World Series game!
As the WSJ review points out, “Leo the Lip was a brawler, a womanizer, a prankster, a compulsive gambler – and a Hall of Famer.”
If you like historical baseball, and enjoy biographies about some colorful people, I am sure this book is for you.