The man in the Catbird Seat recalls the year Leo Durocher was suspended for the season, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color bar, and the World Series inspired Barber to sign-off ""I'll be a suck-egg mule!"" The first, background half is mostly a soap opera starring Branch Rickey, Larry MacPhail, and Leo the Lip. (Less is said--and little that's new--on Robinson's trial by fire.) When religious Rickey and volcanic MacPhail lock horns as associates, and later rival bosses, Durocher is caught in the crossfire and punished for consorting with gamblers. Barber, then the Dodger announcer, was not present at much of this, and relies on the accounts of others--with relatively humdrum results. He was closer, however, to the subject of the book's second half: the pennant races and the Series. He takes respectful note of the 19-game winning streak that catapulted the Yankees to the top of the American League. He is right on top of the proud but pitching-poor Dodgers as they overcome the Cardinals and their own racial prejudice to clinch the National League flag. And then comes the World Series--when Cookie Lavagetto breaks up Bill Bevens' no-hit bid with two gone in the bottom ninth; scrub Al Gionfriddo robs the great DiMaggio of a game-tying home run; and reliever Joe Page stops the Dodgers in Gossage-like fashion. (It was the first Series to be televised, moreover, as well as the first Series appearance of a black.) Though Barber proffers few fresh insights, he does speak personally now and then--confiding his own Southern doubts about black players, recounting Connie Mack's lament at not discovering relief pitching earlier, delivering a brief ode to radio broadcasting. Not quite up to the occasion, maybe--but popcorn for old and new fans.