Book Review: Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue
By Fred Claire with Steve Springer
Published by Sports Publishing L.L.C.
This is my first book review for the website, so hopefully I can give full credit to Mr. Claire’s excellent work with this writing.
Mr. Fred Claire begins his book by telling about the end of his Dodger career. In chapter two, Mr. Claire gives a brief look at his life in the town of Jamestown, Ohio, and how he began his career as a sportswriter at El Camino College.
It all started when Claire’s professor made a challenge for the final grade in the class. The budding student then sent an article entitled “Make Way for the Coast League” to “Baseball Magazine.” He later received an A in the class for his published story, along with a check. The story then delves into how Claire worked through several prominent positions and newspapers to become involved in the PR of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Claire then writes about experiences with such Dodger greats as Walter O’Malley, Walter Alston, Al Campanis, Bill Schweppe, and Red Patterson. Along with those front office men, Claire has Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Bobby Valentine, Bill Buckner, Tom Paciorek, Joe Ferguson, Doyle Alexander, Geoff Zahn, Sandy Vince, Jackie Robinson, Rick Monday, and so many more mentioned.
Another major topic of discussion is Claire’s rise through the Dodgers front office. He started off in PR for the Dodgers, then became the Executive VP, and finally the General Manager, with a few stops in between and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time.
Fred then talks about several of the people who have made a lasting impression on both him and the Dodger organization. Tommy Lasorda, the great manager, is covered in-depth, as well as speedster Maury Wills. The acquisitions of Rick Monday, Kirk Gibson, Jesse Orosco, and a few others for the Dodgers World Series Championship in 1988 are covered fully. He brings a new light on the 1994 player’s strike, as well as what it takes to make a trade, the good ones and some bad ones, and a few words on free agents.
Additionally Claire briefly touches base on some of the lesser high points of the Dodger organization. When manager Tommy Lasorda ended his career due to heart problems, Bill Russell took over. And the time, in 1997, when everything came to an end. Walter O’Malley sold the Dodgers to the Fox Corporation, which ended the family ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Fox group was not totally horrible, but they did make a completely destructive deal of moving Mike Piazza to the Marlins. Claire covers their ownership very thoroughly.
The book ends with a personal section about Fred’s life after work.
This entire book is a very good read. Fred Claire tells his life of a brilliant Dodger Blue in an excellent manner, placing insightful anecdotes with well-written descriptions of his work.
This garners 2.5 balls of a possible four, but is a must own for any Dodger fan or anyone interested in the workings of a Major League baseball front office.
Our Rating System is based on a four ball system as follows:
One Ball: Average. It has something to say but is nothing special.
Two Balls: Something men usually have - also means its a cut above average, and worth reading/owning.
Three balls: Stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Four Balls: More than just what two men have when hanging out together, it means it is an exceptional book that truly earns a walk - straight to the local book store to get a copy.