Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review of "Leo Durocher"

Leo Durocher is a name that many people will recognize, even if they are not baseball fans.  He was a colorful and controversial character and this book is a very complete biography of the man both on and off the field.  Here is my review of "Leo Durocher: Baseball's Prodigal Son"

Leo Durocher : Baseball’s Prodigal Son” by Paul Dickson, read by Barry Abrams
Baseball, professional, biography, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Cubs, Giants, Astros, audio book
Publish date:
April 4, 2017

304 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
One of the most colorful characters to don a baseball uniform, Leo Durocher had his share of unusual stories as both a player and a manager. Controversy seemed to follow him from the Bronx to Cincinnati to Brooklyn to Manhattan to Chicago and then to Houston.  But through it all, he also gained admiration both as a defensive player and an intelligent, gutsy manager. 

Author Paul Dickson tells many of these tales about Durocher, both on and off the field, in an even-handed balanced manner.  While Durocher had his admirers, he also had many enemies. The one person who seemed to have the biggest grudge against him was the second commissioner of baseball, Happy Chandler, who suspended Durocher for the entire 1947 season when he was managing the Brooklyn Dodgers. The evidence that was presented to Chandler was the type that would not hold up in a court of law and Dickson also mentions a letter from a prominent public figure who was Catholic and demanded the suspension because of Durocher’s courting and subsequent marriage of actress Larraine Day, who was married at the time they started seeing each other.

While that was the story that seemed to affect Durocher’s career the most (even to the point of keeping him out of the Hall of Fame until he passed away as Chandler had sway with the Veterans Committer) there is plenty more written about Durocher. The allegation that he stole Babe Ruth’s watch when the two were teammates on the Yankees, the allegation of stealing signals for the Giants that allowed Bobby Thompson to hit the home run that won the 1951 National League pennant for the Giants (something everyone on the field for both teams denies) and his poor treatment of future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Ron Santo when he managed the Chicago Cubs are all covered. 

His off-field life is also covered fairly in and good detail.  His extensive debts, his taste for expensive clothing, his three marriages and divorces and his post-baseball life all make for interesting reading and the writing about them is very good.  The reader will get the complete picture of Durocher, both on and off the field.  Any reader who is interested in the life of “Leo the Lip” will enjoy this book. 

Book Format Read:
Audio book

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