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Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A story about baseball, family, the American Dream, and the fight to turn Los Angeles into a big league city.
Dodger Stadium is an American icon. But the story of how it came to be goes far beyond baseball. The hills that cradle the stadium were once home to three vibrant Mexican American communities. In the early 1950s, those communities were condemned to make way for
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Hardcover, 1st edition, 333 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by PublicAffairs
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  418 ratings  ·  79 reviews


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Brina
Over the last two months we have been inundated with images about being safe at home. In the last two weeks, commercials have focused on mother’s being the mainstay of the home in anticipation of Mother’s Day. To me, it is just another day, but I found myself missing baseball more than ever. The pink batting gloves, cleats, and bats worn by Major League Baseball players to pay homage to their mothers is a touching tribute, but it is also the first marker of a long season in which teams can asses ...more
Blaine DeSantis
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Perseus Books and NetGalley for this free ARC in return for my honest review. I spent 3 years in Los Angeles in the mid-70's and fell in love with the area. And in the past year I have been fortunate to have read 3 different books about Los Angeles and its Urban Development, athletics and the Dodgers. This book specifically deals with those people who lived in what is now called Chavez Ravine, prior to the baseball stadium these were 3 different communities (Palo Verde, La Loma & Bisho ...more
Lance
Dodger Stadium is considered to be one of the crowing jewels among ballparks in the United States, nestled in a prime location with beautiful scenery overlooking the park that fans in certain sections can admire during a lull in the action. How the stadium came to fruition, however, is a very controversial journey that is still being talked about today, almost 60 years after its opening. This excellent book by Eric Nussbaum describes that journey, which took several twists and turns.

While there
...more
Blaine DeSantis
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Perseus Books and NetGalley for this free ARC in return for my honest review. I spent 3 years in Los Angeles in the mid-70's and fell in love with the area. And in the past year I have been fortunate to have read 3 different books about Los Angeles and its Urban Development, athletics and the Dodgers. This book specifically deals with those people who lived in what is now called Chavez Ravine, prior to the baseball stadium these were 3 different communities (Palo Verde, La Loma & Bisho ...more
Geoff
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"He may not have realized it, but when [LA Dodgers owner Walter] O'Malley acquired the [Chavez Ravine Dodger Stadium] site, he was also acquiring the previous decade of dirty politics and legal warfare and the aftereffects of an essential, almost primordial fight over what it meant to be a city. He was acquiring not just the Los Angeles territory but also the history of those three communities and the weight of the crimes perpetrated against them; he was acquiring the hangover from the war over ...more
Jeff Wilkinson
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book a lot. It is very well written. As one of Frank Wilkinson's children, I can attest to the fact that the author stuck to the facts. It is a heartbreaking story of the destruction of a beautiful community. ...more
Albert
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
This was a wonderful, beautiful read, a mix of family, city politics, and baseball. There are many books about the Los Angeles Dodgers, particularly about its move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. This book should become one of the most important ones, for the very reason that the battle to break ground at Chavez Ravine has little to do with baseball. For the City of Los Angeles to make Dodger Stadium happen, they uprooted the communities of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop and forced its families t ...more
Trevor Seigler
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To say that this is a story about baseball, or about communities being pushed aside, or about America itself, is to reduce a beautiful narrative that intersects with all of the above and manages to be Los Angeles-centric nonetheless to something that's easy to fit onto a bookjacket sleeve. This might be one of the most unclassifiable books I've ever read, but it's also one of the best so far this year.

Eric Nusbaum starts with the story of Frank Wilkinson (a name I'd never come across before) vi
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Janelle
Love this author :)
George
Stealing Home is an excellent and very entertaining read.
Lot's of interesting and enlightening side stories.
...more
Nils Jepson
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it
this is an airport book which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it's one of those books your mom picks up when she's buying spearmint gum in the airport convenience store and reads four chapters on the plane before forgetting about it and falling asleep and never picking it up again until she realizes it's been on her bedstand covered in dust for 4 years. that sounds really negative but there's a time and place for books like this. not super analytical, too broad but easily digestible. i enjoyed ...more
Brad Peters
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 1700-1900s
This is a good book, well written with Nusbaum weaving together vignettes of times, places, and people to craft a compelling story. Each chapter is short and stands, it would seem, alone from the preceding one, but ultimately all roads (chapters) lead to Chavez Ravine and the Dodgers' arrival back in the late 1950's.

This is NOT a book about the Dodgers, which I judged it would be by the cover and the subtitle. Oh, sure, O'Malley and the Boys in Blue show up in force in the closing chapters, but
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Misael G
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It took me a bit longer to finish than I expected, and at times, I found it difficult to following along. Having a better history of baseball probably would have helped me along.

That being said, Nusbaum is an excellent writer and storyteller. His vignettes bring the era to life, and it’s really rather amazing how a confluence of social conditions, local politics, and money came together to build Dodger Stadium. But as he himself notes, while the joy and beauty of Dod
...more
Seth
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I was very excited for this book, unfortunately it wasn't really what I was expecting, which is really my fault. I thought the events had been more dramatic then they were. This book ended up focusing on a few individuals and their lives and broader LA politics. I'm also not too sure why so much time was spent on Frank Wilkinson and Duke Snide. ...more
Michael Travis
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story that needed telling. I have sat in the seats at Dodger Stadium; I have enjoyed the beautiful setting. What I didn't know was that the ghosts of 3 neighborhoods, the physical remnants were buried under the parking lots. I won't ever look at the stadium the same; I will forever pause and think of the Arechigas' and their home and life on Malvina Avenue. There are winners and losers in life...I wish they could be only the result of sports vs. life. ...more
Marjorie Faulstich
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone interested in the history of Los Angeles, baseball, and the story of the Chavez Ravine. Jam-packed with historical details, brought to life through the lives of both historical/political figures and everyday people.
Matthew Osgood
Dec 10, 2019 marked it as to-read
I’ve worked with Eric, know him as an editor and writer, and am stoked on this book. He writes with empathy and compassion. He’s a hell of a writer. I’m very much looking forward to this.
Marian P
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Eric Nusbaum’s Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between vividly recounts the arrival of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and more precisely Dodger Stadium in 1962. The book unspools with a cast of characters but mainly seeks to convey three main narratives: the story of Abrana Arechiga and how she was evicted from the Palo Verde neighborhood, the home of the future LA Dodgers; the story of Frank Wilkinson who was committed to bringing a federal housing project, the Elysia ...more
patrick Lorelli
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports-history
This book here is a true history book. The author Eric Nussbaum has given was the reader a true look at the history of Los Angeles before it became the city it is today or even was a hundred years ago. He goes into the description of how Chavez Ravine was really named after a family, and how after decades and even well before the city was even close to the mountain the people who lived there had their own life and way of doing things and living day to day.
You get a glimpse at the early basebal
...more
Reid Mccormick
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
I have visited Dodger Stadium numerous times throughout my life. I have parked in nearly every parking lot and street adjacent to the stadium. It is a beautiful area. You can see Downtown Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Hollywood sign from the park. Though you are in the middle of it all, you feel far from everything. Chavez Ravine is a little jewel in the center of Southern California.

I guess this is why the original homeowners to the area loved it too.

What we now simply call Ch
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Brian
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I honestly don't know exactly what to make of this book. I think the author Eric Nusbaum felt he had a story about how Dodger Stadium came to be that he wanted to relate, and he succeeded in doing that. But toward the end of the book, he explains how public sympathy for the principal holdout family living in the neighborhood where the stadium was built, dried up. For me, at least, this removed much of the motivation for "rooting for the underdog," so to speak. I do think Nusbaum wrote a reasonab ...more
Sara
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I knew the one-sentence summary of how one of my favorite places in the world was built on a destroyed community, but with this book, Nusbaum brought the fullness of the story to life. This book is more about city-building and the interaction of power structures than it is about baseball, while also reminding us that those forces are the backdrop to individual people's stories: the Aréchigas family's American Dream; Fred Wilkinson's determination to bust inequality; the players (literal and figu ...more
David Rugendorf
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between is not just a book about baseball, or even about the events which led up to the construction of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Sure, it has all that, but that's just a part of the larger story. It's about, as the title suggests, the lives caught in between. It's about immigration and race relations, urban development, political deal making and corporate avarice. It's about idealism and repression. It's about the elusiveness ...more
Mike Kennedy
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
I listened to the audio version of this book. It was a very interesting book that covered the land where Dodger Stadium sits today. This is much more of a political story than a baseball one. Chavez Ravine was home to a Mexican Community that was forced to move to make way for a public housing development that never materialized. After the housing development failed, the Dodgers come to town, and it was decided to give them the land to build a stadium. They didn’t help the situation any, but the ...more
Dominic
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-and-read
I was sent a review copy of "Stealing Home" months ago and finally got around to reading it. Let me get the negative out of the way first. Maybe the format was changed in the final copy, but I do not like when there are multiple characters presented in a story and every couple pages start a new chapter and you jump back and forth between those characters. I could never get invested in any particular character as I read a little bit about them, four pages later is a new chapter and a new characte ...more
Matt Conger
I really enjoyed this as someone new to LA. It is by no means an uplifting story: it is hard to read the anecdotes and stories on racism & mistrust of government in LA in the 40s/50s/60s and not connect it to what is happening now in America.

Nonetheless, I enjoy nonfiction books that really transport me to a time & place and also highlight why people I've never heard of (Antonio López de Santa Anna, Frank Wilkinson) were newsworthy and why people I have heard of (Jackie Robinson) have a much mo
...more
Tim Basuino
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I heard this book being plugged on an episode of "Effectively Wild" back in April, and with the pandemic making buying books at a store rather problematic for awhile, I ordered online.

In many ways this is a very engrossing mini-American novel... certainly books could be written (and have) about any number of characters in this - from Frank Wilkinson to Fritz Burns to Duke Snider to to Tolina Augustain. But it's the interweaving of all these that makes this extremely effective at under 300 pages.
...more
Ajk
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"You could work for a better world, but that did not mean the world was going to comply" is a hell of a line, and also kind of the crux of this book. Nusbaum does an incredible job telling a Big Story about Los Angeles through personalities without falling for the "Big Man of History" genre of storytelling: all of the individuals and families he writes about are small, from the families whose homes were destroyed to the millionaire O'Malley. They're all flawed, and none are remotely heroic. What ...more
Cody
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A baseball book that really isn't a baseball book. However, it provides a very exciting and important account of the history behind building Dodger Stadium. In these times where racial/social injustice has become increasingly visible, this book provides visibility on the past. As you might expect, (unfortunately) things really aren't so different now compared to one hundred years ago. It's emotionally conflicting to learn about the dark history surrounding such an iconic building. For all the go ...more
Alexandria Fabbro
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stealing Home gives so much more of the backstory of Dodger Stadium than I’d heard as a kid growing up adjacent to the 110 freeway and following the snaking traffic on it to get to a Dodger game. My parents told of the evil Dodger organization that kicked hard-working Latino families out from their homes to build Dodger Stadium, but Eric Nusbaum compellingly writes of the many layers of well-intentioned public housing efforts by Frank Wilkinson that came to naught during the anti-Commie Red Scar ...more
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Eric Nusbaum is a writer and former editor at VICE. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, The Daily Beast, Deadspin, and the Best American Sports Writing anthology. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he has also lived and worked in Mexico City, New York, and Seattle. He now lives in Tacoma, Washington with his family.

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