NONFICTION : THE DODGERS MOVE WEST by Neil Sullivan (Oxford: $17.95; 243 pp.).

The title suggests that this is a sports book. In reality, it is more of a look at big-city politics in the late 1950s and early '60s. The political maneuverings that let the Dodgers escape from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and end up in Los Angeles, first in the Coliseum and eventually on a prime spot of real estate in Chavez Ravine, are much more fascinating to the student of political science than to the student of Sandy Koufax's fastball. By its very nature, this book is a tedious read.

In essence, it says that the New York politicians weren't quite as smart or as open to change as the Los Angeles politicians. And so Los Angeles ended up with a sensational local resource: a major-league baseball team that usually wins, always draws well and has become part of the local fabric.

Sullivan's book does have one hero emerging from the glut of bumbling politicians. His name is Walter O'Malley, then owner of the Dodgers, whose name in Brooklyn, to this day, is pronounced mud. On the Dodger move issue, history has presented O'Malley as an ogre. It was said that his only motivation was greed, that he took a sport and dragged it into the dirty world of big business.

Sullivan, however, paints O'Malley as a visionary, as a man who, while he didn't understand the machinations of the politicians any more than any layman, had the strength and sense to leverage them and outlast them to his eventual successful end in Chavez Ravine.

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