This is a story about the odyssey of seven players during the turbulent 1960s. It also points a lens at some of their closest teammates and worthiest foes, as well as those in Dodger management who dominated their professional lives. It is a story about what it was like to be a major leaguer when the country was turned upside down by tumult, when players struggled to understand their place both in America and in a game controlled by baseball owners whose wishes were fiat. It is a story about players who made tens of millions for their team on the field but enjoyed few rights off it. It is a story about confusion and ultimately, the kind of piercing self-discovery gained by players—like most people— only after struggles outside the public eye. The players’ private evolutions occurred while they performed in the most glamorous of settings, amid the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pennant chases and the team’s World Series appearances—three in a four-year span, which culminated in two World Championships.
-- THE LAST INNOCENTS: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and The Los Angeles Dodgers
From award-winning journalist Michael Leahy comes the riveting odyssey of seven Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1960s—a chronicle of a team, a game, and a nation in transition during one of the most exciting and unsettled decades in history.
Legendary Dodgers Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax, Wes Parker, Tommy Davis, Jeff Torborg, Dick Tracewski and Lou Johnson encapsulated 1960s America: white and black, Jewish and Christian, wealthy and working class, pro-Vietnam and anti-war, golden boy and seasoned veteran. The Last Innocents is a thoughtful, technicolor portrait of these seven players—friends, mentors, confidants, rivals, and allies—and their storied team that offers an intriguing look at a sport and a nation in transition. Bringing into focus the high drama of their World Series appearances from 1962 to 1972 and their pivotal games, Michael Leahy explores these men’s interpersonal relationships and illuminates the triumphs, agonies, and challenges each faced individually.
Leahy places these men’s lives within the political and social maelstrom that was the era when the conformity of the 1950s gave way to demands for civil rights and equality. Increasingly frustrated over a lack of real bargaining power and an iron-fisted management who occasionally meddled in their personal affairs, many players shared an uneasy relationship with the team’s front office. This contention mirrored the discord and uncertainty generated by myriad changes rocking the nation: the civil rights movement, political assassinations, and growing hostility to the escalation of the Vietnam War. While the nation around them changed, these players each experienced a personal and professional metamorphosis that would alter public perceptions and their own.
Comprehensive and artfully crafted, The Last Innocents is an evocative and riveting portrait of a pivotal era in baseball and modern America.
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