dinsdag 1 september 2015

Jackie Barnett Presents The Sound of the Dodgers!

I stumbled upon this record on Ebay, I loved the cover and was curious about Maury Wills and Willie Davis singing. The album was released in 1963, after the second world series win of the L.A. Dodgers. All songs are written by famous composer Jackie Barnett. Below is a short review of the songs and spoken tracks on the album.

Side 1

Dodger Stadium - Maury Wills, Willie Davis & Stubby Kaye
The song starts with an instrumental part that's a Marvin Gaye's 'You're a Wonderful One' rip-off. But it's a happy start to a great song sung by Wills, Davis and Kaye. It's a song from it's time but most of what they sing still is true today. Dodger Stadium: 'It's our answer to the Taj Mahal'.

Somebody's Keeping Score - Maury Wills
A gospel song performed by Maury Wills. Gospel? You better believe it! Keeping score on a whole other level. This song could be sung during a church service, not during a ballgame. It's a swinging tune, sure, but a bit of a weird choice for a baseball themed record.

What is a Dodger? - Vin Scully
Scully, in his velvet voice tells us what a Dodger is. It starts at Vero Beach. Rookies want to become a Doger, veterans want to stay one. They are All Stars, bums and heroes. It gives a real Dodger fan goosebumps. Vin concludes with this: "A Dodger is a grown up with a lot of little boy in him. It's a way of life". I can only concur!

Solilioquoy of a Dodger Fan - Stubby Kaye
Kaye compares the heroics of the Dodgers with all kind of things, a comet, Sierra Madres treasure, Mona Lisa. Followed by a happy 'we've won today' and a 'we've lost today' chorus. Ending on a high note, of course: we've won today! Funny to hear a guy with a New York accent sing this. Somehow it fits. The best song on the album.

Side 2

Dandy Sandy - Jimmy Durante
There is no voice more recognisable than Jimmy Durante's same goes for his face. Dandy Sandy is a great vehicle for Jimmy. It's reminiscent of Inka Dinka Doo melody wise. A peppy, happy ode to one of baseball's best pitchers ever. best line? "they can't hit whatever they can't see, for them a pop up is a moral victory".

That's the Way the Ball Bounces - Willy Davis
Willy Davis has a deep dark voice which does the song justice. But like the Maury Wills song on side 1 of this record, baseball terms are used as a metaphor for something entirely different. In this case a love song. It lingers in your head but again, has nothing to do with baseball. It's just a vehicle for Davis and he delivers.

The Story of the L.A. Dodgers - Vin Scully
Vin returns to us for a second monologue. In a little more than nine minutes, The Franchise recaps the first five years of the ballclub in Los Angeles. The years they played at the 'memorial goat pasture', their first world series win as an L.A. Club. The move to the new stadium and the fact the planners had forgotten to have drinking fountains installed. Koufax ailments and his glorious world series strike out record against the Yankees. It's great to listen to!

woensdag 26 augustus 2015

Dodgers Win the World Series: Dutch Newspaper articles

The sports pages in Dutch newspapers write about soccer, soccer ow and soccer. They always have and always will. Sure, there is some field hockey and ice skating and during the Olympics about every sport Dutch athletes are good at that year. The amount of space used to write about baseball, be it national or international, is minimal.

I thought it would be fun to show what has been written about the Dodgers winning the World Series and I must say, I was surprised. I even found an article from 1955.

So... here we go...

De Telegraaf published this article on October 5th, 1955. The title 'Dodgers slaan Yankees' is weird, it translates to 'Dodgers hit Yankees' while 'Dodgers verslaan Yankees' would read 'Dodgers beat Yankees' which in this case is what they did. The article mentions it's the first time the Dodgers win the World Series.

The next article was published in De Telegraaf on October 9th, 1959. The article itself is almost unreadable so I post just the title. It says 'Larry Sherry "hero of Chicago", the second part you can translate yourself :). As far as I can decipher, the article also mentions Wally Moon, Duke Snider and White Sox reliever Dick Donovan.

Newspaper 'De Waarheid' (the Truth) published this rather straightforward article on October 7th, 1963. It mentions the Dodgers winning in 4 games.

Het Vrije Volk, October 15th, 1965: 'Dodgers Champions of the World Again'. The article mentions the Twins having been more difficult to beat than was expected. Also the decision of Alston to put Koufax on the mound, not Drysdale. Followed by a short recap of the last game of the 1965 World Series.

Now things become interesting because THIS is the article that made me follow the Dodgers and become a lifelong fan. I was 10 years old at the time and I liked the name 'Dodgers'. De Telegraaf published the article on October 30th, 1981. It's a short article only mentioning the dodgers won in 6 games.

Het Vrije Volk was a bit longer. Published on the same day was this article. It mentions the Dodgers falling behing 0-2 in games but winning 4-2. Reason enough for Howe, Yeager and Garvey to do a happy dance.

In 1988 we won our last World Series. I remember it well and so does De Telegraaf on October 22nd, 1988.

Het Vrije Volk has an awesome picture of MVP Hershiser, a recap and even... the line score of the last game!!

Any mention of Gibson's home run in the first game? Sure, De Telegraaf had an article on October 17th. A shame, though, they have a picture of Canseco hitting his home run. Gibson's was better :).

For those who are wondering... The shot heard around the world, passed us by apparently. I wasn't able to find an article about that aweful moment in Dodgers history.

Pull Up a Chair: The Vin Scully Story: Review

Curt smith wrote this biography of one of my favorite Dodgers, Vin Scully, who, after Tom Lasorda is in the organization the longest. He grew up a Giants fan but saw the light in 1950. Mostly thanks to the efforts of Red Barber who saw him as his legacy.

The writing is up and down. Sometimes staccato, sometimes almost Proustian. The use of an enormous amount of quotes makes it difficult to breeze through it. No need for that if the subject is interesting enough and yes, Vin is! Why does the mere mentioning of silver make him sweat. Which US president to be did The Franchise play against in a college game? Those are about the most personal questions you'll get an answer to.

I had hoped to get an insight, to get to know the man behind the microphone. But it never really comes to that. Vin is a very humble man, maybe that's why. Never wanting to show too much. This quote from Vin might just be at the core of why the whole book stays at a distance: "My style is no style. I'm really nothing. I'm what I am." Smith expects you to know about Dodger players and historical relevant events. The shot heard around the world, the first worls series win, Robinson's first season, Don Larsen's perfect game are all described in a manner of fact kinda way. If you never heard about these events before, it might seem they are just things that happened, nothing fancy.

The move West, though is chronicalled quite thorough though, but not, as I would expect in a book about Scully, told from Vin's point of view. Yes, he didn't look forward to the move but he felt at home quite soon. That's about it. But if you like classic Scully quotes you'll love the book. The best part is the verbatim radio call of the last three outs of Koufax's perfect game. Besides Vin you'll meet loads of his collegues and read about how the radio and tv commentary has changed over the years, with one exception: Scully. He does what he has done for decades, his way. All in all not easy to read, no surprising behind the curtain glimpses into the private life of the Dodgers voice. I'm hoping for a better, more personal account of his life some day.

dinsdag 18 augustus 2015

A No-No for Bill Singer

Exactly 5 months before I was born, Bill Singer threw, what turned out to be, the only no-no for the Dodgers in the 1970's. This rare feat was put on record, literally! A nice piece of vinyl came into my possession recently.
It's grooves contain the voice of our beloved Vin Scully, calling the last three outs of Billy no-no's no-no. It's a younger Vin, talking a bit faster but with that very recognisable Scully style. It's fun to hear the crowd in the background and Vin giving details about how Bill's wife Ginny is keeping score. You don't need a picture, just the words describing the action and the scene are enough.
After the last out, the catch by Torborg, it's quiet for 40 seconds. Classic Vin, off the air to let the moment be the moment, not interrupting it. I get goosebumps listening to the conclusion of a historic no-hitter in Dodgers history.

If you dont have the vinyl itself, you can check it out on YouTube. Close your eyes and enjoy!

p.s. Ten years and seven days later Jerry Reuss got the next no-no for and in LA. Ten years and 2 days later, Fernando Valenzuela was the next Dodger.

dinsdag 21 juli 2015

The Best Team Money Can Buy: the Los Angeles Dodgers Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse: Review

The Best Team Money Can Buy: the Los Angeles Dodgers Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse. I think the title is a bit deceptive. I was expecting a 'Moneyball'-like book with a look behind the scenes of the organization. See more of the management side of it all. It only does in chapter 10 (the last chapter of the book). Instead it tells us the story of the takeover by Guggenheim through the coming and going of new players and a detailed account of the 2013 & 2014 seasons. Which is awesome none the less.
I never liked McCourt, in the end I hated him, but after reading 'The Best Team Money can Buy' I loathe the man. He single handedly ruined one of baseballs most famous and historic clubs. He and his wife used the Dodgers as their personal bank which is a well known fact, but reading about it in such detail made me cringe.
The book is very well written by knowledgeable and Dodgerloving Molly Knight. She knows the game and the players, and players you'll read plenty about. There are loads of backgroud stories of the recent and current players. For example chapter 4 of the book is a condensed biography of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. If you haven't already, you'll fall in love with him. The book made me dislike Puig and Kemp a bit, but most of the players got a lot more endearing. Also, the part about the Gonzalez, Punto, Beckett, Crawford deal is suspensfully awesome (or Awesomely suspensefull)! The flip side of all this is you relive the post season endings of the 2013 and 2014 seasons as well. It's not pretty and no fun.
I recommend this book to every Dodger fan who wants to know more about the players and the coach because (auto)biographies of them won't be published for years! Until then, this will be the book to read!

dinsdag 30 juni 2015

D.O.D.G.E.R.S. Song

I love Danny Kaye. He was a fast talking, funny guy with great facial expressions. His performance in The Court Jester still has me LOLling when I watch it. So when I first heard about his Dodgers song I knew it had to be good. Turned out it was and still is. There are some fun fanmade little movies on youtube that accompany the song. The one by 'The Blue Crew' has great pics of all the players during the song. I tried to get my hand on the 45rpm but it was either too expensive or just plain unavailable on ebay. After some time of inaction I tried a Dutch online vinyl seller and yup, they had one! So, last week I could finally play the song on my record player. I can assure you, it's even more fun when you can play it on your own player. Kaye is so fast with names and plays, it's hilarious.

The 1962 season Dodgers-Giants rivalry inspired Kaye to record the song and most players of both teams are in it. I wondered if the plays he sings about were from a real game. The question was answered in a book I recently finished reading: The rivalry heared 'round the world: the Dodgers - Giants feud from coast to coast by Joe Konte (review coming up shortly).

So, not from real games, but could have been. Still love the song and every time the Dodgers and Giants play a series I'll play the record for good luck. Since we're at 3 wins and 9 losses against the hated ones this season... they could use some luck!

vrijdag 8 mei 2015

Tommy Lasorda: My Way: Review

I was really looking forward to a great read about the skipper, but I was let down immensly. Colin Gunderson was press coordinator and assistent to Tommy which, apparently, does not make you a writer. Like 'Miracle Men', of which you can read my review here, this manuscript was not proof read. Too many double words or missing ones don't make for a smooth read. I had hoped to learn more about Tom, his childhood, his upbringing, his struggle as a pitcher, his triumphs as a coach. Sure, there is some mention, but when it starts to get interesting it changes to players who were inspired by Tom's work ethics (self-confidence, hard work, determination, family, God). And lots of those player memories come from other books, literally! Quotes from Hershisers 'Out of the Blue', 'Miracle Men' and Piazza's 'Long Shot'. I don't need a summary of other books I've already read!Sure, I believe Tom has a great approach to the game, has a Blue heart and will fight for his players, but I didn't need this book to believe that. What the writer does is make Lasorda look like some kind of Oracle, God's right hand on earth, which almost makes me dislike him. Maybe that's because the writer has worked with Tom too long to be critical about him. All that positive talk while we all know Tommy can be very angry and profane if someone bad mouths him or his Dodgers. Gunderson should get a thesaurus as well. Reading the same words sentence after sentence is boring as hell. I tried to read the entire book, but couldn't. I really hoped for an enlightening read... skip this one!