A very scrubbed version of Baseball History…at the Japanese American National Museum.
Like with Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World (review coming soon), I think the Japanese American National Museum is onto something here. I think the Dodgers deserve their own exhibit, and I even think this Museum is uniquely the place to do it.
I just wish the Dodgers hadn’t been in charge of it.
Let’s be honest, were we all in charge of our personal histories (at least in how they were retold) we’d probably all do a fair amount of airbrushing to how our stories were told. The Dodgers are no exception.
That’s why as I walked through the museum, I was curious as to how Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game would handle the rather thorny issue of the Dodger’s relocation from Brooklyn to L.A.
It was like the franchise magically appeared in Los Angeles one day.
It’s not like Walter O’Malley couldn’t make a Dodger’s fan’s life miserable, particularly while they were in Brooklyn, where he spent considerable time undercutting Branch Rickey whenever he got the chance. After running him out of town, he forbade his name ever being spoken in Dodger’s Offices.
Yes, human history. How many Baseball players do you know who were responsible for fronting a massive social change in their country?
This would be the same Jackie Robinson that O’Malley constantly referred to as “Rickey’s Prima Donna”.
You do know that Jackie was never a Los Angeles Dodger, right?
No, he was a Brooklyn Dodger. He retired in 1956 before the team moved to Los Angeles, some would say out of a loyalty to Brooklyn, but mostly out of frustration with how O’Malley ran the team after he got rid of Rickey.
Shame that no one bothered to tell the Exhibit’s organizers that story. Because, if you walk through Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game, you might get the very mistaken felling that Jackie left his heart and soul in Los Angeles.
Look, if you’re a Dodger fan (and for the record, I’m not) this Exhibit might get you all teary eyed. It is a fine, but totally airbrushed review of the Dodgers time in Los Angeles. There are some good things about the exhibit, particularly where it pays attention to the Dodger’s relations with the Asian community here in Los Angeles, be they Japanese-American, Korean-American or Chinese-American. That’s all good. I even liked the time they spent on Fernando mania.
But since I’m not a Dodger fan, I feel very comfortable saying that the Dodger’s time here in Los Angeles hasn’t been all cake and roses. There have been some bumps along the way. There have been some low points as well as some golden ones.
Yes, I do recall them mentioning this:
You walk through this exhibit, you’d swear the Dodgers won the pennant every year since they came down here.
Newsflash, they didn’t.
This exhibit serves as a perfect example as to why PR and Marketing people should never, ever keep a Historical record. It’s useless, and…if you know even a little bit about Baseball history, it’s insulting.
If you want happy, gauzy memories of all things Dodger’s past…by all means, go into the museum.
If you want a historical record of what happened to the Team, by all means…watch Ken Burns’ Baseball. You ain’t getting a historical record here.
I hope the Japanese American National Museum gets more exhibits like these, but I hope the staff curates the exhibits themselves, and not leave it to someone else to curate.
Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game runs through September 14, 2014.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: I think the fact that the Peter O’Malley is the premier sponsor of the exhibit is all the warning you need.
PARKING: Scattered, and mostly limited to Paid lots and Parking Garages. Expect to pay about $7 bucks, but that can vary. If you’re willing to walk you may be able to find Metered Parking a a couple of blocks away from the Museum, down near Wurstkuche. But when in doubt, consult the Little Tokyo Parking Guide that’s available at the Little Tokyo website.