Posts Tagged ‘1960s Los Angeles Dodgers’

“The Last Innocents”: A Review

September 3, 2018

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.