No news in rehash of O's '66 Series run

Destination Mind Games


Black And Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the 1966 World Series That Stunned America

Tom Adelman

Little, Brown and Company/288 pages

My grandfather opened the dresser drawer and pulled out a newspaper, a tad yellowed but not so much that I failed to see Baltimore's joy from Oct 10, 1966.

That day, The Sun heralded the Orioles' first World Series victory, a stunning sweep of the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Brooks, Boog and Frank already occupied special places in my 8-year-old pantheon, but as I cradled that paper, they no longer seemed of the past. That was my first connection to a season played 10 years before my birth.

So you'd think I would be a sucker for a book about the 1966 season. But Tom Adelman's newly released Black and Blue merits ambivalence more than a hearty thumbs up.

Adelman, who last wrote about the 1975 season, offers a competent enough account of the season and detailed descriptions of each World Series game. He dredges up interesting anecdotes about Frank Robinson struggling to find a nice house in segregated Baltimore, and how important announcer Vin Scully was and is in Los Angeles.

But Adelman doesn't strike much new ground. He dwells on Frank Robinson and Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax but didn't interview either. He barely bothers to profile managers Walter Alston and Hank Bauer.

There are annoying missteps. Adelman calls the city Maryland's capital and refers to center fielder Paul Blair as Paulie. He calls a young Jim Palmer scrawny and says that compared with Koufax's delivery, Palmer's seemed "jerky, a shuddering series of still lifes." Funny, I had always thought of Palmer as a graceful, strapping athlete.

I couldn't figure out why Adelman wrote the book. He seems to see the season as emblematic of a nation in transition. He writes: "The astounding events that characterized baseball's championship series that season ... seem inextricably bound up with the race riots, NASA debacles, and Vietnam War deceptions that so aggrieved and altered the country at the time."

But he never establishes the "inextricable" link. This technique of weaving sport and culture has been done much better.

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