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VENTURA COUNTY OUT & ABOUT | Page Turner

Covering All Bases

Steve Delsohn charts the history of the Dodgers by those who made it.

April 21, 2001|ANN SHIELDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As the baseball season gets under way, sports fans can read insiders' accounts of the team that won nine National League pennants and five World Series championships in Steve Delsohn's latest oral history, "True Blue: The Dramatic History of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Told by the Men Who Lived It" (William Morrow, $24).

Delsohn has written 10 other books, including "Out of Bounds" with NFL player Jim Brown, and two other oral histories, "The Fire Inside: Firefighters Talk About Their Lives" and "Talking Irish: The Oral History of Notre Dame Football."

Delsohn will be at Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble today to discuss "True Blue."

"Some people think that when you do an oral history, you just turn on the tape recorder and then send it to a transcriber," Delsohn said in a telephone interview from his Thousand Oaks home.

But "you have to do an enormous amount of research, track people down," he said.

"You have to ask the right questions to get them to open up and put it all together in an interesting and coherent way."

The Chicago native said he read every newspaper article, magazine and book he could find on the Dodgers since 1957 and then began to track down the central characters.

He interviewed 124 people, including past and present Dodgers. Major exceptions were Sandy Koufax, Mike Piazza and Peter O'Malley.

According to Delsohn, Koufax has been called the Greta Garbo of baseball because he is so ferociously private.

Piazza, like Koufax, doesn't reminisce about his Dodger days.

As for O'Malley, Delsohn said he phoned the former owner's office at least 30 times, but O'Malley never said yes and the book went to press without his input.

*

Delsohn described Tommy Lasorda, Dodger senior vice president and former manager, as a lightning rod--a lot of people love him and a lot of people can't stand him.

But he was always very colorful, edgy and interesting, he said.

In all the explanations about why the Dodgers are struggling, what gets overlooked is that Lasorda was a great manager, he said.

The team hasn't had a manager with his ability or his fire since Lasorda stepped down.

He said baseball is a kids' game played by men--it touches something childlike in people. While he thinks it is still as appealing as ever, fans may be turned off by players' salaries today.

He said the Dodgers have the third-highest payroll in baseball.

"People still tend to love or hate the Dodgers," Delsohn said. "You just can't relate to these players any more, and the players certainly can't relate to the average person on the street."

The salaries--he said the average is about $2 million--also have driven up the price of tickets.

Delsohn also is a correspondent for ESPN television on "Outside the Lines."

"I think of myself as a reporter and a writer who works in the book world but now also in television," he said.

"The single best thing about being a writer or a reporter is learning about all these new worlds."

HAPPENINGS

* Today: 10:30 a.m. Dan Barton will discuss and sign "Heckler." At 1 p.m., Jerrilyn Farmer will discuss and sign "Dim Sum Dead." Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Today: 2:30 p.m. Peter Lance will discuss and sign "Stingray: The Lethal Tactics of the Sole Survivor," Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Today: 4:30 p.m. Steve Delsohn will discuss and sign "True Blue." Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Today: 7 p.m. Spring Poetry Slam, hosted by poet/performer Roni, author of "Sensuous Cinema of my Mind." Sign-ups begin at 7 p.m., and aspiring performers should arrive early--only 12 will be accepted. See store for performance guidelines. Borders, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8149.

* Today: 8 p.m. The Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation will present its fifth annual Ojai "Shorts" to benefit local libraries. Themed "Coming of Age," the event will feature readings of short, mostly humorous, selections from literature. Matilija Junior High School auditorium, 703 El Paseo Road, Ojai. Tickets are $30. Call 289-0368 for more information.

* Sunday: 10:30 a.m. The Meaningful Life Book Club focuses on "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Monday: 7:30 p.m. The Spiritual Book Group focuses on "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" by Marcus J. Borg. Borders, 497-8159.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. Monthly poetry workshop. Borders, 497-8159.

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. Adrian Spence continues his lectures on classical music. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Thursday: 1 p.m. Poet Nan Hunt will read from her collection, "The Wrong Bride." Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Thursday: 7 p.m. J.A. Janice will discuss and sign "Birds of Prey." Mysteries to Die For, 374-0084.

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Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be emailed to anns40@aol.com or faxed to 647-5649.

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