This article was written and produced by Steve Fjeldsted, Director of the South Pasadena Public Library
All-Star baseball authors Jason Turbow and Ron Rapoport will team up for an Author Night 1-2 punch on Thursday, June 6 at 7 p.m., in the South Pasadena Public Library Community Room.
The potent lineup will make solid contact during the lively panel discussion on two of the season’s most timely hits. Turbow and Rapoport will be joined by moderator Mark Langill, the team historian for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Turbow will tell the rollicking tale of the Dodgers’ crazy 1981 season that’s colorfully documented in his “They Bled Blue: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem, and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seen.”
During the discussion, Ron Rapoport will reveal the inside story of Ernie Banks, the first ballot Hall of Famer and All-Century shortstop who outslugged Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle in their prime in his most recent page-turner “Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, The Life of Ernie Banks.”
In 1981 the Dodgers were led by the garrulous Tommy Lasorda—a full-time Hall of Fame manager and part-time cheerleader—who regularly called on the “Big Dodger in the Sky” and claimed to bleed Dodger blue. Tommy’s office hosted a regular stream of Hollywood celebrities, as well as top notch players like Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey, the most durable infield in major league history.
The members of long-established quartet were unaware that 1981 would spell the end of their unprecedented run together. The season’s biggest story, however, was completely unpredictable: a 20 year-old stocky lefthander straight out of Mexico would take the league by storm with his wild delivery which included a skyward glance before he’d deliver an almost unhittable screwball as his out pitch.
The Dodgers had been trying for decades to find a Hispanic star to activate the local Mexican-American population as “true blue” fans. It didn’t take very long for Fernando Valenzuela to be the first to assume the role and his fame would soon sweep far beyond the confines of Chavez Ravine. “They Bled Blue” is a sprawling, mad tale of excess and exuberance which could only have taken place at Dodger Stadium at that time.
Jason Turbow is the award-winning writer of “Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic” about Charley Finley’s Oakland A’s, “The Baseball Codes” that finally articulated and explored the often mysterious unwritten rules of the national pastime, and the audiobook “Baseball Forever!” narrated by Bob Costas. Jason has also written for The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Wired, and many other publications. He lives in Albany in the Bay Area.
Rapoport’s “Let’s Play Two” is the highly revealing and definitive biography of the Chicago Cubs’ legendary Ernie Banks, one of America’s most iconic, beloved, and misunderstood players. Ernie Banks is widely known for his public display of good cheer, even though it masked the fact he was a deeply conflicted, melancholy, and often quite lonely man.
Banks endured poverty and racism as a young man –and later the scorn of manager Leo Durocher as an aging superstar. Despite his superstar-like status for so many years in between, Banks was never known to have complained or uttered a negative word, even though he spent his entire career with the woebegone Chicago Cubs. His signature phrase “Let’s play two,” has entered the American lexicon and exemplifies the enthusiasm and optimism that has endeared him to fans everywhere.
Rapoport was a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun Times and spent several years with Banks trying to help him write an autobiography that was never finished. Ron also wrote for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, and the Associated Press. He served as the sports commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition for two decades and has written many other books about sports and entertainment. He lives in Santa Monica.
The free, fun event is ideal for baseball fans of all persuasions, including Dodgers fans still trying to get over the 2017 and 2018 World Series Blues. A good dose of some of Ernie Banks’ enthusiasm and optimism, as well as reminiscences of the Dodgers’ 1981 World Series victory are expected to exert a positive therapeutic effect on fans in attendance who bleed blue.
The event for all ages is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse.
The South Pasadena Library Community Room is at 1115 El Centro Street. Admission is free and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary, but space is limited.
For more information please call the Library at 626 403-7350.