Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between by Eric Nusbaum is a story about baseball, family, the American Dream, and the fight to turn Los Angeles into a big league city.
Dodger Stadium is an American symbol. The account of how it came to be goes a long ways past baseball. The slopes that support the arena were once home to three lively Mexican American communities. In the mid 1950s, those communities were destroyed to clear a path for an idealistic public housing project. At that point, in an exceptional turn, public lodging in the city was vanquished in the midst of a Red Scare conspiracy.
Rather than getting their homes back, the leftover inhabitants saw the city offer their territory to Walter O’Malley, the proprietor of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Presently LA would get an alternate kind of idealistic dream – a sparkling, ultra-modern stadium.
Before Dodger Stadium could be assembled, the city would need to face down the neighborhood’s families – including one, the Aréchigas, who wouldn’t yield their home. The resulting encounter spellbound the country – and the troublesome result actually echoes through Los Angeles today.
Eric Nusbaum Books
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About the Dodgers move to Los Angeles
Walter O’Malley acquired the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and had one of the best teams in the game at that time. They did very well in the standings, but struggled to sell tickets thanks to their aging stadium, Ebbets Field. O’Malley sought to build a new stadium, but was running into issues with New York City Construction Coordinator Robert Moses. Robert Moses wanted the team to move to a spot in Flushing Meadows, Queens while O’Malley sought a parcel in downtown Brooklyn.
Los Angeles had been on the hunt for a team, eyeing the Washington Senators, but O’Malley became interested when the city offered him a chance to buy land and own that ballpark which meant all revenue streams came to him. The move happened quickly and the team left after the 1957 season.
About the Author
Eric Nusbaum is a writer and former editor at VICE. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, The Daily Beast, Deadspin, and the Best American Sports Writing anthology. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he has also lived and worked in Mexico City, New York, and Seattle. He now lives in Tacoma, Washington with his family.
Other Books You May Like
City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles by Jerald Podair: This book tells how Los Angeles was convulsed between 1957 and 1962 over whether, where, and how to build Dodger Stadium. Competing civic visions clashed.
Would Los Angeles be a decentralized, low-tax city of neighborhoods, as demanded by middle-class whites on its peripheries? Or would the baseball park be the first contribution to a revitalized downtown that would brand Los Angeles as a national and global city, as advocated by leaders in business, media, and entertainment?
Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin: Wait Till Next Year is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s touching memoir of growing up in love with her family and baseball.
Goodwin describes with eloquence how the Dodgers’ leaving Brooklyn in 1957, and the death of her mother soon after, marked both the end of an era and, for her, the end of childhood.
The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America by Joe Posnanski: This is as much the story of Buck O’Neil as it is the story of baseball. Driven by a relentless optimism and his two great passions—for America’s pastime and for jazz, America’s music—O’Neil played solely for love.
Stealing Home Podcasts
Effectively Wild Episode 1524: Let’s Read Two: Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller split up to talk to the authors of two new baseball books. First, Sam speaks to Sports Stories newsletter author Eric Nusbaum about Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between. Then Ben brings on Wall Street Journal national baseball writer Jared Diamond to discuss Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution.
Bullseye with Jesse Thorn – Sports writer and “Stealing Home” author Eric Nusbaum: Eric joins host Jesse Thorn to talk about reckoning with the reality of his book, the history of the team and his love of the game. Plus, he’ll reveal more about the lives of the community members who had their lives turned upside down.