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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bob's Books - 'Off the Record' by Buzzie Bavasi

Buzzie Bavasi started out with the Brooklyn Dodgers, moved west with them to Los Angeles, was in on the ground floor for the expansion San Diego Padres and worked for Gene Autry with the Angels. With a break for World War II, he was in the baseball business from 1938 to 1984.

Off The Record is his memoir of a life in baseball. I gave five stars to Harold Parrott’s own baseball bio, The Lords of Baseball. Parrot worked with Bavasi in Brooklyn and LA and the book truly provided a look ‘behind the curtain.’

Bavasi’s book feels lightweight. As if you were talking over a few beers and he was telling stories. Which is fine. But it’s largely one short anecdote after another. There’s not a lot of detail or substance to the stories. Just sort of a “So I fired Durocher for badmouthing Alston. But Walter told me to hire him back the next day.” Then the next incident.

I’m always interested in books that tell about the Dodgers’ days in Brooklyn. Bavasi was there, and he does recount some things, but there’s not much to it. That’s not to say it isn’t without interest. He tells of his running the Dodgers’ minor league club in Nashua in 1946. While Jackie Robinson was playing in Montreal, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe were integrating the New England League.

Bavasi tells of Jackie Robinson’s disingenuousness regarding his retirement instead of accepting a trade to San Francisco. And he certainly shares his thoughts on the changes in the game regarding players’ attitudes, agents and salaries (the book was published in 1987 and salaries were nothing like they are today).

This isn’t a bad book: but it feels like a single. And with Bavasi’s baseball resume, it could have been a home run. It falls in the bottom half of my Dodgers library.

Bavasi with Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella: three Hall of Famers

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