BOOK REVIEW: A MOMENT IN TIME-RALPH BRANCA

I know, not another book about the Brooklyn Dodgers, there have been more book about them Bums than tomes on dieting, aging and becoming rich, put together, but “A Moment In Time by Ralph Branca with David Ritz” (published by Scribner) is a bit different, it’s a look at a man who has led a great life both on the baseball field and off but is still haunted by an event that happened 60 years ago.

Branca tells the reader of the great upbringing he had and his love of his family comes through quite clearly. A couple of subjects that Branca talks about that made me pause while reading was that his mother was born Jewish but converted to Catholicism’s and his wife is the granddaughter of Steve McKeever, a part owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Of the two, I wish Branca went into more detail on what it was like dating and then marrying the daughter of one of the team owners and what was their mind set during the upheaval of the team leaving Brooklyn.  Branca does let us know that he puts most of the blame of on Robert Moses than O’Malley for the team’s departure to the West Coast.

The strongest parts of this book are Branca’ frank talk about the managers he played for and of course, October 3, 1951. When Leo Durocher was the Dodger manager Branca was one of Leo’s boys and Branca felt that he was a baseball savant. When Durocher left and went to the hated cross town rivals, New York Giants, Durocher tried to deal for Branca by offering Bobby Thomson in return. WOW! It wasn’t until Branca finds out about the elaborate sign stealing operation the Giants were using did he declare Durocher dead to him. Branca had problems with the field bosses who followed Durocher in Brooklyn. Burt Shotton, sat on the bench in street clothes, with a sharpened #2 pencil and kept a score card. That was the extent of his tactical prowess. Charlie Dressen had a bad case of Durocher envy which Branca doesn’t hold back his disdain for.  Reading between the lines a bit, I got the sense that Branca/Dressen relationship was testy due to Branca’ involvement with the owner’s daughter, as Dressen comes off as a very insecure man, especially down the stretch in 1951.

The final couple of chapters of the book deal with Branca hooking up with Bobby Thomson and hitting the card show circuit. Both men made a very nice piece of change teaming up and signing autographs for a fee, but Branca always had the fact that the Giants were stealing signs and his feeling that Thompson got the sign of the 0-1 fastball he hit out the Polo Grounds for the most famous home run in baseball history, clearly on his mind whenever he and Thompson teamed up. I got a chuckle when Branca writes about not wanting to be a “whiner” about the subject but continues to whine about the subject.     

Branca tells the reader up front that he is an old timer who is very opinionated and that comes through loud and clear. This is the “one more Brooklyn Dodger book” that’s worth a read.

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DODGERS BACK TO BROOKLYN ?

OH BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Looks like Frank McCourt is looking to unload the Los Angeles Dodgers of Brooklyn as he can’t afford a baseball team and an ex-wife. Oh the possibilities here.

Could Freddy Skill Sets pull an O’Malley and head West to own his beloved Dodgers ? Think about it. Or how desperate is McCourt for some scratch that he would sell the DODGERS name to Freddy? Or just the trademark name Brooklyn Dodgers ?  Then he can get Jay Horowitz to legally change his name to Happy Felton

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JEFFEY SKILL SETS PUTS ON HIS BIG BOY PANTS

Kids, I was thisclose to getting a word with Jeffey Skill Sets yesterday, thisclose.

I left my office on W.Broadway at 4PM to go to the game last night. I grabbed an uptown 2 train to Times Square and jumped on the 7 which just happened to be an express and I arrived at $iti Field by 4:45. To my surprise the gates at the O’Malley Shrine were opened and fans were filing in. I went down the left field line to watch BP after awhile I moseyed around the park, grabbed a hot dog (I swear Nathan’s makes two different brands of hot dogs, one for Coney Island and the other for general distribution as the Coney Island dogs are superior to the any other Nathan’s dogs off site. I swear on Coney Island they boiler the hot dogs in ocean water before grilling them) walked a little more, looked at sites, listened to the sounds and all of a sudden I saw a commotion in front of the Mets dugout. There with microphones, cameras and note pads was the CEO of the New York Mets, Jeffery S. Skill Sets holding court and me just 20 rows and a security guard away from my ultimate goal to heckle Jeffey. Now I knew there was no way in hell I was getting down there not with James from Woodside (that’s what it said on his badge) guarding the section.

So I had to wait until I go home from the game to hear what Jeffey had to say (just as well I didn’t get down to the dugout, who wants to get tossed out the ball park before a game and on your birthday no less) but from listening it seems that Omar acted out of frustration against Adam Rubin and what I found interesting was that Jeffey who usually calls his daddy and uncle by their first names, keeping it business like, said that Monday was an “embarrassment to him his father and his uncle” WOW this is personal. Omar’s in trouble here and it will take some big time fence mending with the Skill Sets and the press to save him. He better hope this on field resurgence continues as he is on thin ice and the temperature is getting hotter by the second.

This is where Minaya made his biggest mistake he made this personal and not business. His buddy got caught doing some nasty shit and Adam Rubin reported the facts and Omar got caught covering up Tony B’s transgressions. Omar wanted his pound of flesh and made himself into an ass doing it. Let’s see if he can recover from this.

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MAYBE THE NETS NEED TO GO TO KANSAS CITY………..

because it doesn’t look like they are going to Brooklyn. The Ratner Arena project has been doomed from the jump with lawsuits and community opposition and now the economy so he may as well pull an “O’Malley” and move west, mid-west to be exact. I’m sure all the junkies and prostitutes who frequented that area that Ratner wanted to build up are happy with today’s news as will the yuppies who will enjoy their “new neighbors”

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