Endsley, Brian M. Koufax Throws a Curve: The Los Angeles Dodgers at the End of an Era, 1964-66. Jefferson, NC, McFarland & Company, 2018. Appendix of Dodger and Koufax data, epilogue, notes, index. $35.00 paperback.
Reviewed by Murry Nelson
Koufax Throws a Curve: The Los Angeles Dodgers at the End of an Era is the third of Brian M. Endsley’s trilogy of the Los Angeles Dodgers from their World Series win in 1959 through the 1966 World Series loss in 1966 and the subsequent retirement of Sandy Koufax. This was a book that I looked forward to reading since I have been a Dodger fan since 1955, despite growing up in Chicago. Despite that, I wanted more than Endsley provided in his book.
The book is very detailed, covering each game from 1964-66 that the Dodgers played, as well as many of those of their closest rivals during that period and the detail often includes every pitch thrown. At times, this is exciting, but, at other times, unnecessary and overdone. There is a place for collapsing data, but Endsley doesn’t seem to know where that is. I understand that since I often am guilty of the same “sin” in some of my books. I hope to try and keep this in mind in the future.
The volume also tries to connect the reader with events in the world and nation at the time, which is appreciated, but there needs to be more effort at explaining why a baseball fan would care about some of that information. The ballplayers are quoted from newspaper stories, mostly the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, but it would have been more engaging to also track down a few of the and allow them to reflect on that period, more than 50 years later. Yes, memory often fails us, but emotion and feelings may remain and allow the story to have more heart and depth with the benefit of retrospect.
There are nice little “portraits”, both photos and brief career comments of some fine ballplayers, but the atomization of the games, right down to each count, at times, deflates some of the larger picture and I was left unsatisfied, despite enjoying a lot of the book.
Murry Nelson is a Professor Emeritus of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on the history of basketball, and he is the author of The National Basketball League: A History, 1935–1949 (2009), Abe Saperstein and the American Basketball League (2013), and Big Ten Basketball, 1943-1972 (2016).