Even though the Dodgers are a private organization, the city declared the construction of a stadium for them to be a public good, therefore justifying the eviction of the Arechigas and the other remaining holdouts in the neighborhood. It was a decision that presaged today’s common practice of cities’ building sports stadiums with public financing and giving tax subsidies to teams.
So it came to pass that in 1959, on live television, the Arechigas were forcibly removed from their longtime home, which was then bulldozed in front of them. Dodger Stadium met rave reviews when it opened three years later. It remains beloved, evocative of a mid-20th century ideal of the California good life.
Nusbaum’s reporting and research are impressively deep, and his empathic writing brings his subjects to life. Stealing Home is a baseball book, but it’s only glancingly about baseball. Really, it’s about how you can’t fight city hall, how one person’s American Dream often tramples another’s and how myth-making can be used to gloss over injustice and trauma.
Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between (Public Affairs) went on sale March 24.
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