From the first pitch of April until the final out in October, the 1962 Dodgers and Giants staged a furious pennant fight that was every bit the equal of the fractious feuds waged during the rivalry's New York heyday of bench-clearing brawls.
Set in what many call “the last year of American innocence,” the 1962 National League pennant race was in a new context - a 10-team league including Houston and the Mets, a 162-game schedule, and the new Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. But it also had plenty of tradition. Names like Snider and Mays, Durocher and Dark were still in uniform 11 years after the celebrated Giants-Dodgers playoff decided by Bobby Thompson's homer in the ninth, in 1951. The move west, in 1958, had not mellowed any memories - Candlestick Park and Dodger Stadium replaced the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field, but the intensity of mutual dislike was the same. Add to this the uncanny resemblance of the Dodger-Giant standings going into the 1962 playoffs to that of their 1951 ranking, and you have a season-ending script that stands as one of the most memorable and amazing in the game's history.
In Chasing October, David Plaut captures in fascinating detail all the great moments, raw emotion, and nail-biting suspense of the unforgettable fight to the finish. Each team finished the regular season with imposing 101-61 records. Each had its heroes: Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Felipe Alou, and Jack Sanford were Bay Area favorites. In Los Angeles, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, and Frank Howard were as recognizable as the Hollywood celebrities who turned out nightly at Chavez Ravine to cheer them on. Each team had their own pressures as well. Younger Dodgers supported manager Walt Alston, others openly preferred coach Leo Derocher. On the Giants, minority players were not always enamored of their manager, Alvin Dark. Just as in 1951, the playoff featured rallies, drama, and tactical blunders that sent the action into the ninth inning of the final game before being decided.
With updates and a new preface, this 50th Anniversary Edition of Chasing October is a must not only for the fans of these two exciting franchises, but for any lover of baseball. In capturing the exhilarating spirit of the intense rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants, Plaut gets to the essence of baseball's hold on the imagination.
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