Book Review: Heroes, Scamps and Good Guys

Professional sports in Cleveland has quite the colorful history with a number of interesting personalities who have provided entertainment through the years. In Heroes, Scamps and Good Guys: 101 Colorful Characters from Cleveland Sports History by Bob Dolgan, the author looks at some of the more interesting athletes to be involved in Cleveland Sports.

As this is a blog specifically dedicated to baseball, we will start with Dolgan’s focus on Indians players. Dolgan includes four dedicated sections to the Indians alone, showing the importance of the team to Northeast Ohio. The three sections are: Indians 1948, Indians 1950s-60s, Indians 1970s-90s and Indians-Early Years.

As 1948 is the last season the Indians won a World Series, it’s no surprise an entire section would be dedicated to players from that legendary team. In this section, Dolgan shares stories focused on the likes of:

  • Satchel Paige
  • Bill Veeck
  • Lou Boudreau
  • Larry Doby
  • Dale Mitchell

After winning an American League pennant in 1954, the Indians started a decades long spiral. Even so, there were still characters worth discussing during this time period. Some of those Dolgan chose to include during this time period include:

  • Early Wynn
  • Al Lopez
  • Herb Score
  • Rocky Colavito
  • Luis Tiant

The next section carries us through three decades from the 1970s through the 1990s. The first 25 years were completely forgettable for the Tribe and their fans, but the latter half decade of this time period not only revitalized the fan base, but the city at large as well. This is shown in the choice of players to cover for this period, which include:

  • Gaylord Perry
  • Joe Charboneau
  • Carlos Baerga
  • Albert Belle
  • Jim Thome

Despite going in chronological order up until this point in the book, Dolgan changes his tune at this point in the book and switches the focus to the early years of the Tribe. Given the team was started in 1901, a it is feasible that a lot of characters who mattered had their time periods take place during the first half century. A selection of those Dolgan chose to include are:

Dolgan also has one section entirely dedicated to the Browns and two variety sections, both of which do have a few baseball focused players in them. In this pre-LeBron area for the Cavaliers, it’s really no surprise that Dolgan made the decision not to include a section focused only on the hardwood.

Most of the book is republished articles Dolgan wrote throughout the years regarding these players. If someone would have been a dedicated reader of the Cleveland daily during his tenure there, it is likely they would have already read many of these tales. Some of the articles are interesting and do take the reader back to the time when the topics being discussed were actually happening allowing for immediate reaction. There is a feeling this reviewer gets whenever he sees books filled with articles that were already published in a different form…the feeling is everyone involved is looking for an easy money grab. This isn’t an indictment against everyone who has done this in the past, but add to it that this book isn’t exactly a page turner and some articles don’t really seem a relevant or complete picture of the individual they are attempting to profile, it left much to be desired based on what readers would expect from the cover.

Bob Golgan is a long time writer for the The Plain Dealer, the long running daily newspaper in Cleveland, OH. He has also had work published in The Sporting News, Baseball Digest and Golf Digest.

The 206-page book was published in 2003 by Gray and Publishers in Cleveland, OH. The hardcover version retails for $24.95.

Baseball Reflections Rating: 3/5

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