THE MAN WHO MOVED THE DODGERS BACK TO BROOKLYN by David Ritz

THE MAN WHO MOVED THE DODGERS BACK TO BROOKLYN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The title tells you pretty much all you need to know about this overlong, laboriously nostalgic fantasy--which might have some Avery Corman-esque appeal were it not for its two unlifelike heroes: Danny ""Squat"" Malone (the narrator) and Bobby Hanes. Though gifted catcher Squat is lower-middle-class and brilliant Bobby is the son of the super-rich Borough President, the boys are 1950s childhood cronies who share a fanatical love for the Brooklyn Dodgers. And there's some charm in the opening scenes of their odd-couple friendship. But, in an apparent attempt at Runyonesque tone, uncertain stylist Ritz (Search for Happiness, 1980) overdoes both Squat's dumb-Brooklynese and Bobby's upper-classness: as years go by, Squat--who becomes a jeweler after losing a leg (and his baseball career) in an accident--often sounds as if he's nearly mentally retarded; dilettante tycoon Bobby, meanwhile, is made to talk like an English butler. Furthermore, both men remain overgrown juveniles throughout--even in their 40s in the 1980s, when Bobby buys the L. A. Dodgers and persuades Squat to run the team for him. Bobby's Dodgers are a disaster, however--a failure that's exacerbated by his nemesis, TV sports-newswoman Oran Ellis. And when Bobby tries to Hollywood-ize the team, a fed-up Squat tells the press that Bobby intends to move the Bums back to Brooklyn; Bobby is thus pushed into this plan, which soon includes the rebuilding of Ebbets Field. So the action moves back to Brooklyn, where: Bobby and Oran finally become lovers; Bobby has to sweet-talk the protesting tenants of the hi-rise on the Ebbets site; and Squat must round up a winning team--from Cuba (a silly episode with Castro), from sandlots, and from Brooklyn College. . . where Oran has found Jewish pitcher Ruthie, who'll make baseball history (and be Squat's true love). The finale, then: the new team's success; Ruthie's hard-won triumph and problematic pregnancy; and a double wedding. . . . With some engaging characters and some comic flair, this whimsical scenario could have certainly generated some low-key pleasure. Here, however, though Ritz is obviously well-meaning and knowledgeable, the people are unreal and the approach is heavily sentimental instead of lighthearted. Of probable interest to fervent baseball fans, then, but slow, sticky going for all others.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1981
Publisher: Simon & Schuster