“No Money, No Beer, No Pennants: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Great Depression” by Scott H. Longert
Baseball, history, Indians
September 15, 2016
4 ½ of 5 stars (excellent)
After winning the World Series in 1920, the Cleveland Indians didn’t repeat the success again, sinking to new lows by 1928 with a star (Tris Speaker) who retired amidst a gambling scandal, their owner passed away and the value of the franchise was rapidly declining. However, all was not lost for the team as a new owner and a new stadium would help reverse the team’s fortunes despite the country being deep into the Great Depression.
In this well written and deeply researched book, Scott Longert illustrates how the Indians were able to overcome this adversity and help convince the voters and local government leaders of Cleveland to build a brand new stadium – Cleveland Municipal Stadium with a capacity of over 80,000. The dealing and construction of the stadium is just one of the many issues affecting the team in which Longert gives the reader sufficient detail to get a clear picture of the issue, who the key people are in the matter and what the final result will be.
The portrayal of people, from owner Alva Bradley to managers Roger Peckinpaugh and Walter Johnson are also well researched and the reader will follow them through most of the book. Key players are also included and the same attention to detail is paid to them as well. From Wes Ferrell and Earl Avirill to Bruce Campbell (who survived spinal meningitis) to a teenage sensation named Bob Feller, the players are portrayed in a manner that the reader will learn much about them.
The business of the ball club is a main topic throughout the book and that was just as good, if not better, than the writing about the people. Readers will learn a lot about what the team, and the sport of baseball, went through during the Great Depression and how they, like every other industry and business, had to make significant cuts to expenses to survive. The saga of the team moving to the new stadium also made great reading, including the incredible decision of Bradley to move the team back to its smaller, older park in 1934 because he felt the rent charged by the city was too high.
Readers who are interested in baseball history, even if that interest isn’t concentrated on the Indians, will enjoy this book as it paints a complete picture of the team during that time frame. Indians fans who want to know more about the history of their team and the old “Mistake by the Lake” – the nickname later given to Cleveland Municipal Stadium – will enjoy reading this one as well.
I wish to thank Mr. Longert for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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