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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IT’S THE BIZZARO WORLD OF NYC BASEBALL

For the first time in the history of baseball in NYC fanatics of both the Mets and Highlanders will be rooting for each others team as The Used Car Salesman’ Carnival Show A/K/A Inter-League play is set to go this weekend. For the first time in my memory, Mets fans will be rooting for “A-Bombs from A-Rod” and some “Swish-o-licios” home runs, as the Highlanders take on the hated Cheese Steakers from Philly.

 

Highlander fans in turn will be rooting for the Amazin’s for the first time ever as Mets take on the Old Town Team and try to help the cross town rivals climb into first place. Don’t get to comfortable with this truce as it ends June 12th when Mets-Highlanders meet in the Carnival Series.

 

Oh yea, condolences to Derek Jeter for losing his standing as team leader. Seems the new kids on the block don’t go for that old time Highlander religion. Looks more like Alex Rodriguez is the man in charge now. When Mariano Rivera becomes the Supreme Court Justice of the Kangaroo Court you see he has aligned with the Wild Bunch as well. As for dick heads like Michael Kay look at your Highlander history books and see that for all your pride and tradition bullshit this edition of the Highlanders has a retro 70’s feel to it.

 

I neglected to mention this yesterday here and on Pro Baseball Central (check out last nights show as Joe and I debated the reasoning for sending Carlos Delgado cross country then DL’ ing him and how I feel the Skill Sets need to hire a customer service expert to better serve the fan base a/k/a paying customers) to check out the story in the NY Times about Bobby Valentine and how the management of the Lotte Marines have told him he will not be back next season as their manager. The Marines claim it’s a money issue but the fans feel it’s more of Valentine and management not seeing eye to eye on most matters. Mets Grrl has a link to the story plus a great link to a site that has a video of the Lotte fans with a tribute to Bobby V. I’ve never hid my feeling for Bobby V as I thought he is a gifted baseball man and my biggest fear is of him coming back to the states and managing in the Bronx.

 

I think we all need to take a deep breath and maybe a cold shower over Mark DeRosa. Sure he would be a fine addition to the Mets now that Alex Cora is done for a couple of months but there is no way in hell I’m giving up Jon Neise or any upper tier prospect for him. Folks, DeRosa is nice player but I’m not going to go into a panic to get him. Jose Reyes it seems it not seriously hurt and let’s give Daniel Murphy a chance to play 1st base and if Murphy is not the answer at first base then neither is DeRosa you have to get better than that.

 

I have no problem with the Mets bringing up Fernando Martinez but if you do he has to planted in LF and left there even if he hits .210 for three weeks. Don’t yo-yo this kid bring him up drop Jeremy Reed and play Sheffield in right spelling him with Church.

 

A must read today is Greg Prince’ post on naming the bridge in $iti Field centerfield the Willie Mays Bridge. I’m all for it.  While you’re there click on the link for his book and thank me later.

 

   

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