Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Bushville Wins! The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball by John Klima
Here is a good World Series book.
During the major league baseball playoffs, with my teams dropping faster than the autumn leaves, I turned from the television to my reading wish list and choose Bushville Wins! The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball by John Klima, a baseball story that I knew would end well. The subtitle and the pictures on the cover give away the ending to anyone not already familiar with the story. I knew the basics, having read two books on the baseball career of Henry Aaron, a key player in the saga. I read this history of the 1957 Braves over four or five days, still peeking at the current playoffs each night.
Bushville Wins! is a classic team history divided into three parts. The first tells how in 1953 the hapless Boston Braves became the first major league team to relocate in 50 years. The move gave the team a larger fan base and more capital with which to build on an already promising core of young players. The second part recounts the ups and downs of the team during the 1957 season, which threatened at times to be as disappointing as 1956 when the Braves were eliminated from the pennant race on the final weekend. In the final part, the author tells how the Braves beat the favored Yankees, who had won so many times before.
Being anti-Yankee all my life, I found Bushville Wins! a story to savor. The author describes how in the 1950s New York dominance of baseball had dampened national interest in the game. He asserts that the Braves' move to Milwaukee led the way to the spread of teams across the country and that their win in the World Series signaled that most champions would come from outside New York City in the future.
I enjoyed many entertaining stories about old players whose baseball cards I had as a kid - Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, and Bob Buhl. They were a spirited brotherhood dedicated to fun on and off the field. I also liked what in the 21st century seem strange details, such as Braves officials running a thousand telegraph lines into County Stadium for reporters covering the 1957 World Series. The author makes 1957 Milwaukee a lively destination for sports book readers.
Klima, John. Bushville Wins! The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball. Thomas Dunne Books, 2012. 323p. ISBN 9781250006073.