cover image The Spirit of St. Louis: A History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns

The Spirit of St. Louis: A History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns

Peter Golenbock. William Morrow & Company, $27.5 (672pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97660-7

Having chronicled the Yankees (in Dynasty), Golenbock takes a look at another storied organization, the St. Louis Cardinals, and its near-forgotten crosstown rival, the St. Louis Browns. His understated narrative guides readers through an impressive collection of oral histories of past and living veterans of the game. Managers and owners play a significant role in the story as Golenbock does an excellent job of describing the impact of the two franchises on baseball history. The Cardinals' stalwart general manager, Branch Rickey, long before he signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers, revolutionized baseball by creating the farm system. He eventually built the Cards into a success (the team has won nine World Series, second only to the Yankees) though he paid players as little as possible. The Browns, however, struggled constantly, failing to garner new talent or retain rising stars, until owner and showman Bill Veeck (infamous for sending a midget to bat and for fielding a one-armed outfielder) was forced to sell the club. Significant baseball figures profiled include Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean, Stan Musial, Curt Flood and Mark McGwire. Field-level anecdotes and insights from more than 150 baseball seasons abound. Both teams could boast great rosters at one time or another, but dynasties have eluded them. Their histories of struggle, with Golenbock's focus on the owner's hand, reveal how volatile the business of baseball has always been. (Jan.)