Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, NetGalley ratings, and more! This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers (Nebraska, 2016) by Michael Fallon! Fallon is a writer on arts and culture and a nonprofit manager based in Minnesota. He is the author of Creating the Future: Art and Los Angeles in the 1970s. You can learn more about his work here.
About the book: The 1977–78 Los Angeles Dodgers came close. Their tough lineup of young and ambitious players squared off with the New York Yankees in consecutive World Series. The Dodgers’ run was a long time in the making after years of struggle and featured many homegrown players who went on to noteworthy or Hall of Fame careers, including Don Sutton, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, and Steve Yeager. Dodgerland is the story of those memorable teams as Chavez Ravine began to change, baseball was about to enter a new era, and American culture experienced a shift to the “me” era.
Part journalism, part social history, and part straight sportswriting, Dodgerland is told through the lives of four men, each representing different aspects of this L.A. story. Tom Lasorda, the vocal manager of the Dodgers, gives an up-close view of the team’s struggles and triumphs; Tom Fallon, a suburban small-business owner, witnesses the Dodgers’ season and the changes to California’s landscape—physical, social, political, and economic; Tom Wolfe, a chronicler of California’s ever-changing culture, views the events of 1977–78 from his Manhattan writer’s loft; and Tom Bradley, Los Angeles’s mayor and the region’s most dominant political figure of the time, gives a glimpse of the wider political, demographic, and economic forces that affected the state at the time.
The boys in blue drew baseball’s focus in those two seasons, but the intertwining narratives tell a larger story about California, late 1970s America, and great promise unrealized.
“Not a conventional championship-season kind of treatment but a thoughtful, comprehensive, and even deeply personal account of a boisterous era whose echoes remain loud, even painful.” —Kirkus
“Within Fallon’s framework, you might be able to revisit [Los Angeles in the 1970s] with a more critical eye and really see it for what it was – far more interesting than maybe we gave it credit for when we lived through it.” —Tom Hoffarth, Inside Socal (includes a Q&A with the author)
“…the baseball segments are sharp and detailed, taking readers back to that era.” —Brett Rohlwing, Library Journal
“Fallon offers a deeply researched, lovingly crafted treatise on a team and a city—inextricably linked—each wrestling with its own potential in a tumultuous period of transition.” —Tolga Ozyurtcu, Sport in American History
“Fallon does tell a good story within these pages and does a nice job relating these facts to the readers.” —Gregg Kersey, Gregg’s Baseball Bookcase
On the UNP Blog:
Starting in March 2016, Michael Fallon “live-tweeted” the entire 1977 Dodgers season:
You can follow Michael Fallon on Twitter for more nostalgic tweets!
A word from the author:
A long time ago, in a darkened movie theater…
My life changed on that late-May day in Southern California, when I went alone to a matinee of a new space spectacle called… well, we all know what it was called. It was 1977, I was eleven, and suddenly the world was full of promise. If Luke Skywalker could take on the all-powerful Galactic Empire, then perhaps other impossible dreams could come true. Perhaps oil wouldn’t run out by the end of the decade. Perhaps we would return to space, building reusable spacecraft—maybe even starships—to travel to new and distant galaxies. And perhaps my favorite baseball team, the Dodgers, would win its first world championship in my lifetime.
I was brought back to those heady days very recently, on the occasion of both the 40th anniversary of George Lucas’s masterpiece and the 1st anniversary of the publication of my book Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers. It still somewhat amazes me that my little book about my love for a baseball team, and also about Star Wars, John Wayne, the California Tax Revolt, Hugh Hefner, and so much more, exists in the world today—it would have hardly seemed possible to the eleven-year-old me. But then, before Star Wars, no one thought a space movie could capture the imagination of the world. But both things do exist in the world, and, today, I feel fortunate to know that they do.