Summer of Shadows: A Murder, A Pennant Race, and the Twilight of the Best Location in the Nation

Summer of Shadows: A Murder, A Pennant Race, and the Twilight of the Best Location in the Nation

by Jonathan Knight


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In 1954, Cleveland, OHIO, billed itself as "The Best Location in the Nation." Business boomed in its factories, its sports teams won championships, and life was good along lovely Lake Erie. But in that golden summer, the seeds already were being sown for the city's fall from grace, one that would lead ultimately to a new nickname, "The Mistake by the Lake."

Through vast research, author Jonathan Knight recreates the summer of Cleveland's apex, when two spectacular dramas unfolded. The Indians, a powerful team that featured a Jewish star and general manager, an Hispanic manager and top hitter, and the first African-American to play in the American League, battled for the pennant against their archrivals, the New York Yankees, to whom they perennially finished second. Also during that fateful summer, the city-and the entire country-followed the tragic mystery of Marilyn Sheppard's murder and the trial of her husband, handsome young "Dr. Sam" Sheppard.

Summer of Shadows is a page-turning tale of sports, crime, and a city's history, evoking a time and place in America when forces collided to end an era and begin a whole new way of life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578604678
Publisher: Clerisy Press
Publication date: 12/01/2010
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,186,344
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Prelude: Summer 1969 1

Autumn Interlude-Game 1 8

Part 1 Before the Shadows 29

chapter 1 Now or Never 31

chapter 2 Empire of Freedom 41

chapter 3 A Saturday Night Town 50

chapter 4 Storm Clouds 64

chapter 5 The Chasm of Ridiculousness 78

chapter 6 A Triple into the Gravestones 94

chapter 7 Hard Luck 104

Autumn Interlude-Game 2 110

Part 2 The Best Location in the Nation 118

chapter 8 Bleed and Believe 120

chapter 9 Two Aging Aces 133

chapter 10 Seven Minutes of Silence 144

chapter 11 The Sphinx and the Howitzer 156

chapter 12 The Night Before 162

Autumn Interlude-Game 3 170

Part 3 Murder on the Lake 180

chapter 13 They've killed Marilyn 182

chapter 14 The Lost Weekend 202

chapter 15 The Strong Arm of the Law 206

chapter 16 The Cleveland Spectacle 218

chapter 17 Mr.Cleveland to the Rescue 228

chapter 18 Steamed Up 238

chapter 19 Get That Killer 243

chapter 20 Like a Hollywood Movie 258

chapter 21 Bring Him In 266

chapter 22 The Guns of August 288

chapter 23 A Ghoul's Paradise 295

chapter 24 Destiny 308

chapter 25 What Evidence Is There? 314

chapter 26 Not the Folding-Up Type 322

Autumn Interlude-Game 4 334

Part 4 Twilight of the Gods 347

chapter 27 Whammy Be Dammed 348

chapter 28 The Yankee Doubleheader, Act One 354

chapter 29 The Yankee Doubleheader, Act Two 365

chapter 30 we're In 377

chapter 31 One Hundred Eleven 388

Final Interlude-Winter 398

End Notes 447

About the Author 464

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Summer of Shadows: A Murder, A Pennant Race, and the Twilight of the Best Location in the Nation 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Schmerguls on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book got better and betteras I read it. It tells of Cleveland in 1954, and of the pennant race, when the Indians won 111 games and the pennant, then lost in 4 World Series games to the Giants. Interspersed with the account of that baseball saga is an account of the murder of Marilyn Sheppard and the outlandish way her husband was handled in the investigation and trial. See Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333 (1966). The author did good research and even a non-avid baseball fan will get caught up in the baseball history so knowledgeably recounted by the author. And a legal observerr will see why Miranda and its progeny were necessary, in the terrible way the murder investigation and Dr. Shppard's trial was handled in the press and in court. A surprisingly fascinating book indeed!
williwhy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Murder and baseball would not seem to go together very well, but this book does an interesting job of combining the two stories. On reflection, both the '54 Indians and the Sheppard murder case were tragic stories set (sort of) in Cleveland. Further, they both occur (sort of) during the same summer. Further, both included convoluted plot changes one might not have anticipated.The story lumbers a bit to get running until about the halfway point. During this first half, the murder story is darkly hinted at, but has not happened, so the Indians are in the sharpest focus. The book does a nice job of laying out a sense of time and place, and the reader will often be shocked by the tales of discrimination against athletes from ethnic and religious backgrounds that are almost unimaginable today. But once the murder itself enters the story, the book takes on a sort of gripping readability. Overall, I was put in mind of Devil in the White City, Erik Larson's tale of the construction of the White City of the Chicago World's Fair and a serial murderer preying on young women who attended. That work has a lot more murders to draw on, of course, but the construction story is perhaps less gripping than the baseball account that parallels the Sheppard case. I found the attempt to tie all this to the decline of Cleveland a bit of a stretch. Whatever the case, this was an enjoyable book with something for the baseball fan and mystery buff alike.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1954, Cleveland, Ohio, billed itself as the "Best Location in the Nation". Just a decade or so later the city became known as the "Mistake by the Lake" when changing times, a changing economy all fed a downhill slide to make Cleveland the butt of late night comedians' jokes, especially after the polluted river flowing through town caught fire. But back in 1954, things were still looking good. The Indians were playing great baseball - with the potential for actually beating the Yankees for the American League pennant after several near-miss years. Then Dr. Sam Sheppard woke up to find his wife brutally murdered, with a wild story of one or more intruders that not only killed Marilyn, but also beat him when he chased these shadowy figures down the beach outside their house. What happens next defines the term "media circus", leading to Sheppard's arrest and trial for the murder while the Indians have one of the best seasons in baseball history leading to one of the worst World Series defeats ever.These two competing stories dominated Cleveland in 1954, and Jonathan Knight does a marvelous job of telling the story of the summer. His baseball writing is spectacular and it's clear he knows the city well. His coverage of the Sheppard case was less detailed than I'd hoped. After all, this case is infamous for poor treatment of the accused doctor - if, of course, you believe he didn't do it. It's also one of those cases that never really got solved, theories abound as to who actually committed the horrible crime, and it's become part of American culture by inspiring (even if unintentionally) a TV series and movie. With more on Sheppard, this would have been darned near perfect. As it is, it's still a good book, although probably appreciated better by baseball fans.
tymfos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cleveland, Ohio: Summer, 1954. Cleveland is still boasting that it's the best place in America, and for the moment they appear to have the best baseball team in America. Will long-suffering Indians fans be disappointed again by a late-season stumble in the pennant race, or are these Indians the real deal?As if baseball didn't provide excitement enough, the July 4 weekend is disturbed by the murder of Marilyn Shepherd, wife of local physician Dr. Sam Shepherd. In as case that will achieve national infamy, investigators, prosecutors, the coronor and the press demonstrate just how badly a murder case can be handled by all involved -- and the public is out for blood!Jonathan Knight offers an insightful look at a turning point in a major American city of its time, as a city is caught up in the kinds of passions that only sports and crime can ignite. Along the way, he notes interesting tidbits about changes in American culture that took Cleveland (and in some cases America) by storm that summer.I had mixed feelings about the structure of the book. I think I understand what the author was trying to accomplish by mingling "Autumn Interludes" from that fall's World Series in the midst of the summer's tale. In some ways, it added to the poignancy of the tale being told, and made it easier to wrap up the book when the summer's events had played out. On the other hand, I found myself feeling a bit bounced around and had to stop and think where we were in the summer when picking up the book again, especially if I had taken a break from reading after one of these interludes.I also felt that the coverage of the Shepherd case was a bit one-dimensional, and less thorough than I would have liked.
dulcibelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Knight tried to tie the 1954 Cleveland Indians' pennant race in with the Sam Sheppard murder case and tie that in with Cleveland's decline as the "best location in the nation". He was successful in writing an entertaining book - and you don't have to know much about baseball to enjoy it - but I don't know that he made any connections except that they happened in the same year. Erik Larson (Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City) has written similar books, but he managed to connect the crime with the historical event a little better.Even so, I quite enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who likes easy reading histories.
zimbawilson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Knight has done a great job capturing the city of Cleveland and America itself circa 1954. Knight artfully blends the tale of the '54 Indians pennant chase over the hated Yankees and the story of Dr Sam sheppard and his murdered wife. While keeping interest in both stories going at the same time, Knight also blends in slices of Americana that paint a vivid picture of life in post WWII America. While a good deal of this book is about the Indians and baseball, the story of Sheppard is dutifully covered and not just mentioned as a secondary story. I found Knight's writing style very articulate and highly readable which I think is an accomplishement when writing about two very different subjects.
BAP1012 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An intriguing and complicated book relating 3 interwoven tales: the season of the 1954 Cleveland Indians, the trial of Dr. Sam Sheppard for the murder of his wife, and the story of Cleveland, Ohio - the Greatest Location in the Nation - during the summer of 1954.The details are in-depth and sometimes slow things down but the completeness of the story is solid. I found myself reading this in spurts which worked best. I am a baseball fan - especially of the old teams - and have been interested in learning more about the Sam Sheppard murder case. It was a very informative and well-written book with lots of passion for the game of baseball, the city of Cleveland, and accurate historical writing. Knight's writing was colorful and poetic as well as factual. I enjoyed the book very much.
EMYeak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Cleveland, Ohio in the summer of 1954. The city billed itself as ¿The Best Location in the Nation¿ and experienced a great summer that year as the Cleveland Indians battled for the pennant against the hated New York Yankees. That same summer, much of the country kept at least one eye on the city following the mystery of the murder of Marilyn Sheppard. Her husband Dr. Sam Sheppard was tried and convicted of the murder. This book by Jonathan Knight combines these two stories as the summer progresses. Knight does an excellent job of transitioning between them. Being a bit of a baseball fan, I always enjoy reading about the teams from several decades ago. I was caught up in the excitement of the pennant race and the huge disappointment the Indians players and fans suffered in the World Series.I was a huge fan of "The Fugitive" television series which has been thought by many to be based on the Sheppard case. Growing up in the 50s, I remembered hearing about the murder so I was interested in reading more about it. Whether or not Dr. Sheppard was guilty, his treatment by the media and the courts was unbelievable and clearly showed how much legal reforms were needed.I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it for a quick easy read of a different time in our country.
lindapanzo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This enjoyable, interesting book tells three stories. First, it¿s a baseball book about the 1954 Cleveland Indians, one of the greatest teams of all time. Second (and secondarily), it tells the story of the Sam Sheppard case, in which the suburban Cleveland doctor was accused of murdering his wife, Marilyn, on July 4, 1954. Third, the author spends some time talking about the decline of the city of Cleveland, which in 1954 was still called ¿the best location in the nation¿ but, by 1969, was called ¿the mistake by the lake.¿As for the baseball part, I¿ve read many similar books and the author does a decent job talking about the great Indians team, which won 111 games (out of 154), and its players, such as Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, and Al Rosen, along with its manager, Al Lopez, and its GM, Hank Greenberg. What is off-putting, however, is how he talks about each World Series game as an ¿Autumn Interlude¿ throughout the book. It disrupts the flow of the narrative as the reader needs to think about whether the author is talking about the regular season pennant chase or the World Series. Also, once the final Autumn Interlude is done, I had no interest whatsoever in going back to the text and reading about the anti-climactic pennant chase.The parts of the book dealing with the Sam Sheppard case were interesting though I wish the author had done more with how the Sheppard case changed the law. He does do a good job of talking about how the crime scene was contaminated¿star Cleveland Browns quarterback, Otto Graham, lived nearby and was allowed to traipse through the house after the crime as was a neighbor boy who was looking for his lost pet turtle. The author also talks of how the Sheppard case ended up being a ¿trial by newspaper¿ and the legal reforms the U.S. Supreme Court eventually imposed on how newspaper reporters operate in the courtroom.I enjoyed how the author put the year, 1954, into context, talking about such events as window air conditioners and also frozen dinners coming into widespread use.Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it, though I¿d caution readers to be prepared for an author who jumps around a bit too much.
koalamom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1954 Cleveland was touted as "The Best Location in the Nation" but by the end of the summer that was all to change.The Cleveland Indians started off so-so than then exploded and went on to win the American League only to lose in four straight games to the New York Giants in the World Series.A young woman by the name of Marilyn Sheppard was murdered and her husband was soon arrested and convicted of the murder, but was he really guilty?After that Cleveland's image went downhill and has yet to really recover.Most of the book was taken up by the events of the Indians, though the trial was given good coverage. Personally I would have preferred less baseball, but baseball enthusiasts will find it informative.
Carmenere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the same vein as Eric Larson¿s Devil in the White City, Jonathan Knight juxtapositions two events in the history of Cleveland, Ohio, one sports related and another murder, which still today has its residents discussing and surmising: The talented 1954 Cleveland Indians and the Marilyn Sheppard murder trial. Both events had the citizen¿s of this city on the edge of their seats and drawn to their local newspapers to learn of the latest developments. The Indians were in a bitter pennant race with the powerfully consistent New York Yankees and in this the newspapers did what they were made to do, report the details and outcomes of the games.As the Indians were plowing through 111 victories that year, Marilyn Sheppard, wife of affluent doctor, Sam Sheppard was ruthlessly murdered in her bedroom as her husband slept on the downstairs sofa. Being a very uncommon occurrence in the affluent suburb of Bay Village, citizens were in an uproar and feared that unless the murderer was brought to justice their lives would be in jeopardy. The Cleveland Press reports the murder, the lack of law enforcement expertise in the community to handle the case which brings in the County Coroner who does his own inquisition and the Cleveland Police Department who then takes the reins of the investigation. Soon afterwards, The Press, comes to the forefront in demanding the murderer be arrested and brought to trial for despite the lack of evidence they know who the perpetrator is and for the good of the community should be brought to justice. It is interesting to see how a newspaper which is designed to report the news becomes and makes the news.From a lifelong resident of the area, it is obvious that Knight carefully researched his subjects and Clevelander¿s born after 1954 will finally understand why Cleveland was once coined ¿The Best Location in the Nation¿ but it, none the less, saddens me that it is a book such as this that reaffirms that Cleveland is stuck in the past and rehashing old news does little to advance the community.