Ron Fairly had an unbelievable 1958, in which he started the year playing baseball at the University of Southern California and ended it as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then it got better.
Fairly at Bat is a dramatic, funny, and altogether entertaining romp through a 50-year career as a player and broadcaster, including as a member of three World Series champion Dodgers teams in the 1950s and ‘60s.
All the stars of those great teams are here, not just as players, but as people, teammates and friends. The old guard from Brooklyn and the new stars in Los Angeles: Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Frank Howard, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills and so many more. How the Dodgers who came west made Los Angeles their own, even winning a World Series in a football stadium until Dodger Stadium was built.
Fairly takes you into the lives of baseball players of the 1960s and ‘70s, not only between the basepaths, but in off-hours before and after the games. His memoir includes not only the Dodgers, but players he faced such as Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, or just met along the way, like Red Sox hitting star Ted Williams.
The incidents are famous, of course, like the 1963 World Series sweep of the New York Yankees, how a bad scouting report almost cost the Dodgers the 1965 World Series and what it was like to be swept by Baltimore in the 1966 Series. The way baseball was in a rougher time, with brushback pitches and even the infamous Marichal-Roseboro brawl in 1965.
Fairly pulls no punches, discussing his relationship with the Dodger management, including owner Walter O'Malley, general manager Buzzie Bavasi and manager Walter Alston. He includes an amazing story about Alston pulling a star pitcher after 10 pitches ... in batting practice!
So much more: why Fairly chose USC for college over UCLA, even though he was offered a basketball scholarship by Bruins coach John Wooden, what Vero Beach was like in the heyday of Dodgertown and his post-Dodgers odyssey that included All-Star selections in Montreal and Toronto and stints in Oakland, St. Louis and a lucky final stop in Anaheim.
He made a very successful transition from player to broadcaster, but just as when he came up with the Dodgers, he had to learn a new trade. Being behind a microphone had its own challenges, much different than those of a player.
Fairly at Bat is a memoir shaped by his half-century in the game that originally started as a personal journal that has been transformed into 212 pages of fun that's easy to read and enjoy. Fairly worked with long-time Los Angeles Times sportswriter and author Steve Springer, a veteran of more than a dozen books, including best-selling biographies of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya and many others.
It's illustrated with Fairly's personal photographs, including those from his youth, and many locker room prank shots that showed teammates and friends having a good time as well as playing a game they loved.
Fairly at Bat: My 50 years in baseball, from the batter's box to the broadcast booth includes a foreword by Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a timeline of Fairly's career from youth baseball in Long Beach, California, to the broadcast booth until his retirement in 2012, and a statistical summary of his 20 years as a major leaguer.
“My worst day in a baseball uniform was better than the best day I could have had in any other career.” Share those days with Ron in Fairly at Bat.