Nineteen sixty-two—it’s been called “the end of innocence,” as America witnessed the Cuban Missile Crisis and the following year saw the Kennedy assassination and the early stirrings of Vietnam.
In baseball, 1962 was a thrilling season. Five years prior the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants had migrated west to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, leaving New York to the Yankees. In 1962, those same Giants and Dodgers faced off to see who would advance to the World Series. Waiting to do battle were the Yankees, who were also battling for allegiance in New York with the Mets’ debut. The old Subway Series had gone cross-country.
Just as it was the end of innocence, it was an end of an era for the Yankees. Winners of eleven World Series titles in twenty years, they would go fifteen years— a record for the modern-era Bombers at the time—until their next championship. They appeared in the next two World Series, but by the end of the decade it was those upstart Mets amazin’ fans. The Dodgers would break through the following year and again in 1965 while the Giants—convinced they’d be back many times— have yet to win a title on the West Coast. Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Casey Stengel. Steven Travers details Hollywood’s adoration of the Dodgers, San Francisco’s battle between inferiority and superiority, and New York, rulers of sport and society, experiencing the beginnings of a changing of the guard. Three cities, five teams, and one great year are all here in A Tale of Three Cities.