Band of brothers
The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals were one of baseball's most colorful gangs of players, a combative bunch who rallied at season's end to overtake the New York Giants for the National League crown and then proceeded to defeat the Detroit Tigers in a storied World Series. John Heidenry's The Gashouse Gang is a solidly researched and warmly told account of that team and season, with special focus on star hurler Dizzy Dean, who won 30 games and provided newspapermen with reams of copy that recorded his attention-getting antics both on and off the field. Other Cardinals who come alive in Heidenry's well-written text are Leo Durocher, Pepper Martin, Frankie Frisch, Joe Medwick and Dean's younger brother, Paul, who, as a rookie, won 19 games and played a critical role in the team's success. Cardinals honcho Branch Rickey the same man who later ushered Jackie Robinson into baseball is a key figure in this story as well, emerging as a skilled front-office manipulator of men and money.