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Monday, July 23, 2012

Bob's Books - High Fives, Pennant Drives and Fernandomania by Paul Haddad

My earliest baseball memories are of the 1974 Dodgers. So I was excited to sit down with Paul Haddad’s High Fives, Pennant Drives and Fernandomania. A look at the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1977- 1981, these were the men in blue I grew up watching and reading about in box scores. Though the west coast games often didn’t make the east coast newspapers the following morning; I often found “Late Game,” instead of the Dodgers’ results. In those pre-internet days, it wasn’t uncommon to go a full day or even two before finding out who won!
Fernandomania totally
swept America in 1981
But my elation was short lived. In the introduction, Haddad states, “…I am not a professional baseball writer. I am a fan.” And this book is absolutely not written by a real writer. Haddad recorded Vin Scully broadcasts during the time and made his own highlight tapes, incorporating his own commentary. So, he had a lot of firsthand information from that period. And he decided to throw them together into a book.  

The Dodgers had not won a World
Series since 1965; and had lost
their last two to the hated Yankees
There is a six page section on why he thinks The Bad News Bears is the best baseball movie ever. We are also treated to a sample of the Dodgers newsletter that he created at the time. A cowriter might have helped him shape this fan reminiscence into some semblance of a viable book. Instead, it’s kind of like reading through a scrapbook. He picks five games from each season to serve as representative of the year, with other miscellaneous stuff thrown in, like his thoughts on the movie, The Fan.

While I loved the subject matter (the 1974-1981 era in Dodgers history is woefully underreported), this is just about the worst book on the Dodgers that I have read.  It did wistfully remind me of my baseball card collecting days, but it just isn’t a very good tome. I hope someone else decides to delve into the Jimmy Wynn to Fernando Valenzuela days.

Glenn Burke 'invented' the high five as a
celebratory greeting to Dusty Baker.

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