Black and Blue: the Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the World Series that Stunned America

(2006, Back Bay)

Like The Long Ball, this too is a nonfiction baseball book written as “Tom Adelman.” This one tells the tale of the 1966 season and World Series.

It occurred to me that certain American cities take their teams very seriously, like Boston, like Detroit, like Philadelphia, like Baltimore, working-class cities where sports just seemed to matter an awful lot to everyone, and those were the places, and those were the teams, that I wanted to write about. And I realized that I’d never read a book about Baltimore that explained 1966, the season when the Orioles really became great, when they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

1966 was a year of some very dramatic baseball, and in the country as a whole there were some big changes. So many things started in that period, I wanted to look at it through the prism of baseball, just to see what it would show me.

1966 was the year that feminism and black power were articulated, the year that Ronald Reagan became governor of California and Spiro Agnew became governor of Maryland, there was a war that fewer and fewer people liked, a race to the moon that was looking pretty sketchy, and more and more kids with long hair taking drugs and listening to loud guitars. It was the year the miniskirt first appeared, it was the year that Hollywood movies first talked graphically about sex, and it was the last year of Sandy Koufax’s career. I grew up near Los Angeles, loving the Dodgers, so like any writer I’d dreamed of getting a chance to compose something about Koufax, and this was my chance.

Reviews

Baseball Chronicle

Ihsan Taylor, New York Times

“Adelman followed a winning formula in The Long Ball… this model serves him well again.”

Taking Their Hits

Patrick Goldstein, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Adelman tells stories with verve and insight.”

Let’s Play Two

John Curtis, San Diego Union-Tribune

“Astonishing… Adelman goes way past the box scores to get information that makes the players more human and the games more dramatic.”

Adelman Hits Homer With “Black and Blue”

Bill Alden, Town Topics

“Adelman, as is his custom, weaves social and cultural history into the baseball mix.”

“Richly layered… An entertaining and informative portrait of two underappreciated teams in an unforgettable time.” —Bob Hohler, Boston Globe

“Adelman does a nice job putting some zip into his work, sprinkling it with funny stories and good locker room insight.” —Bob D’Angelo, Tampa Tribune

Black and Blue delivers good baseball action, ownerly perfidy, and social context.” —Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe

Black and Blue book cover

Soldiers, astronauts, and baseball players—uncomplicated heroes: fit, short-haired, clean-cut, steady-eyed, and mostly white—appeared to be natural extensions of one another for the last time on that day in early October. That game was over too. Koufax departed, and night fell.