Buzzie and the Bull


Buzzie and the Bull

A GM, a Clubhouse Favorite, and the Dodgers' 1965 Championship Season

Ken LaZebnik
Foreword by Bob Bavasi

208 pages
16 photographs


September 2020


$29.95 Add to Cart

April 2024


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eBook (PDF)
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September 2020


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2020


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About the Book

Buzzie and the Bull chronicles a baseball year in the lives of two lifelong friends who couldn’t be more different: Buzzie Bavasi, the legendary general manager of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, and Al “the Bull” Ferrara, bon vivant, fountain of joy, and bench player. Their 1965 baseball journey encompassed a thrilling pennant race settled on the final day of the season, a city engulfed in flames, a perfect game, and a GM who extolled his friend the Bull as a hero in May and then banished him from the team to the depths of public purgatory in July.

The partnership of these two characters—the general manager who valued fearlessness above all else and the crazy player who loved living on the edge—became the embodiment of champions who never choked in the clutch. Over seventeen years, Bavasi’s teams won eight pennants and four World Series titles. His approach deserves review, and his friendship with Ferrara illustrates the ground on which he staked his baseball career. The summer of 1965 proved Bavasi’s thesis that champions are built on players with one core characteristic: nerves of steel.

Buzzie and the Bull offers a counterpoint to today’s focus on advanced statistical analysis that may be crowding out the important work of discovering a player’s unique human qualities: the intangibles. Gauge those intangibles correctly and you get an edge—and edges help win championships.

Author Bio

Ken LaZebnik is a writer best known for his work in television, film, and theater. Among his many credits are writing and producing the television series Touched by an Angel and co-writing (with Garrison Keillor) the screenplay for the film A Prairie Home Companion. A lifelong baseball fan, LaZebnik cofounded (with Steve Lehman) the Minneapolis Review of Baseball, which later became Elysian Fields QuarterlyBob Bavasi is an attorney, longtime Minor League club owner, and principal with Bavasi Sports Partners.


“A wonderful exploration of a single baseball season told with great verve and exceptional research augmented by hours of interviews with Ferrara himself and numerous other baseball luminaries.”—Brian Renvall, Library Journal

"This is an entertaining book to read and a fantastic account for the Dodgers fans."—Tom Knuppel, KNUP Sports

“Buzzie’s ability to see intangibles gave him extraordinary insight into a player’s makeup, as evidenced in this delightful read of Al Ferrara, who played eight years in the big leagues.”—Mike Port, former vice president and general manager of the California Angels and the Boston Red Sox

“To memorable duos in baseball history—Ruth and Gehrig, Spahn and Sain, and Abbott and Costello—now add Buzzie and the Bull. In Ken LaZebnik’s masterful hands this unlikely pairing of canny executive and rambunctious player comes alive with flair and fluency.”—Lee Lowenfish, author of the award-winning biography Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman

“Buzzie Bavasi was an unparalleled practitioner in the increasingly lost art of finding player talent that statistics fail to disclose, which helped win a pennant when he found it in Al Ferrara.”—Bob Fontaine Jr., scouting director for the Toronto Blue Jays and former scout for the San Diego Padres, California Angels, and Seattle Mariners

"A fun, quick read that fans of the Dodgers will enjoy."—Lance Smith, Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Bob Bavasi
1. The Winter of 1964
2. Spring Training
3. April
4. May
5. June
6. July
7. August
8. September
9. October
10. Winter
11. 1966 and Beyond
Epilogue: Two Lives, One Team

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