“The Last Innocents”: A Review

The Last Innocents cover

Recently I picked up a book entitled The Last Innocents by Michael Leahy. This is a volume concerning the 1960s Los Angeles Dodgers. It tells the story of the team through the eyes of several players, most prominently Maury Wills, Wes Parker, Sandy Koufax, Jeff Torborg, Tommy Davis, Dick Tracewski, and Lou Johnson, with side trips to talk about other players.

The book deals with the period from the call-up of Wills in the late 1950s through the retirement of Parker in the early 1970s. It looks at how each player interacted with the team, with his teammates, and with the larger community around. It is as much a social history of the era as it is a baseball book. Leahy looks at how the various team players dealt with the civil right movement, the assassinations of John  and Robert Kennedy (but doesn’t do much with the M.L. King assassination), the Watts Riot. Leahy considers the players as members of the community as well as ball players. Each sees the world differently, but also finds the ballpark and the team a haven away from the other things going on outside the stadium.

There are long passages about the entire process of contract “negotiations” (the players didn’t get to do much negotiating) and how it led ultimately to Marvin Miller ( a minor character in the book) and the Player’s Union.

Because this is primarily an oral history (done through interviews not documents) you get a look at the ideas, plans, fears, and concerns of the players not just as players but as citizens of a country beginning to make a major change in its society. If you find the 1960s fascinating, this is a different look at the era. If you are a fan of the Dodgers, especially the 1960s, team, this is worth the read.

I found it in paperback at Barnes and Noble for $16.99.

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7 Responses to ““The Last Innocents”: A Review”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    This sounds like a book I’ve been wanting to read. I started to read a book about the 1968 Detroit Tigers, juxtaposing the team against the various race riots, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement, etc. At least that was what I had hoped it would be. After reading quite a bit of that book, I found that it was not the book that I thought it was.

    This book that you reviewed, V, sounds like the book that I was looking for when I bought the book about the 1968 Detroit Tigers. Thanks for the heads-up!

    Glen

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    I was just able to score a used copy on e-bay for $3.99! Which is a LOT better than the four dollars that SOME of these price gougers had the nerve to sell it for!

    Glen

  3. keithosaunders Says:

    This book sounds like it’s in my wheelhouse. Thanks for the review and recommendation, V!

  4. “The Last Innocents” By Michael Leahy | Tall Tales & True Stories Says:

    […] Back on September 3rd, the writer named V, on his blog which I faithfully read along with Steve Myers’ and W.K. Kortas, wrote a book review on his Verdun2 blog on the book “The Last Innocents”. In case you didn’t read his review, here’s the link to it: https://verdun2.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/the-last-innocents-a-review/ […]

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