The Hollywood Stars were the most inventive team in baseball history, known for their celebrity ownership and movie star following during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
In Lights, Camera, Fastball: How the Hollywood Stars Changed Baseball, Dan Taylor delivers a fascinating look at the Hollywood Stars and their glorious twenty-year run in the Pacific Coast League. Led by Bob Cobb, owner of the heralded Brown Derby restaurant and known more famously as the creator of the Cobb salad, the Hollywood Stars took professional baseball to a new and innovative level. The team played in short pants, instigated rule changes, employed cheerleaders and movie-star beauty queens, pioneered baseball on television, eschewed trains for planes, and offered fans palatable delicacies not before served at ballparks. On any given night, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, and dozens more cheered on their favorite team from the boxes and grandstands of Gilmore Field.
During the Hollywood Stars’ history, its celebrity owners pushed boundaries, challenged existing baseball norms, infuriated rivals, and produced an imaginative product, the likes of which the game had never before seen. Featuring interviews with former players, Lights, Camera, Fastball is an inside look at a team that was far ahead its time, whose innovations are still seen in professional baseball today.
Dan Taylor is a former award-winning television sportscaster. He is the author of Rise of the Bulldogs, A Scout’s Report: My 70 Years in Baseball, and Fate’s Take-Out Slide in collaboration with George Genovese. Taylor is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. He resides in Fresno, California.
Chapter 1: You Can Sell it Out of A Hat.
Chapter 2: Not Without Me.
Chapter 3: Wholly Owned by Hollywood People.
Chapter 4: Go In and Get a Uniform.
Chapter 5: Play Ball.
Chapter 6: A Few Steps Ahead of Them.
Chapter 7: Clean Up That Mousetrap.
Chapter 8: We’re Both Irish.
Chapter 9: The Coast League Has Been Fast Asleep.
Chapter 10: A Day that Will Live in Infamy.
Chapter 11: A Sweet Prospect.
Chapter 12: The Terrible Twinks.
Chapter 13: We Fellows Will Win This Fight.
Chapter 14: Don’t Worry about Him.
Chapter 15: Didn’t we Make a Fortune?
Chapter 16: The Boy Wonder.
Chapter 17: The Business is not for Sale.
Chapter 18: Give ‘im My Regards When You See Him.
Chapter 19: Let Me have it for Three Years.
Chapter 20: Hooray For Haney!
Chapter 21: It’s Funny About Kids.
Chapter 22: Aren’t They Sexy?
Chapter 23: They’ll See a Lot More Movie Stars There.
Chapter 24: This is Major Class.
Chapter 25: A Frankenstein Which May Eat its Own.
Chapter 26: Run Your Guts Out.
Chapter 27: A Natural.
Chapter 28: That’s the Wrong Sanchez.
Chapter 29: It Was a Good Clean Riot.
Chapter 30: You’re Looking at Something Special.
Chapter 31: Homeruns Are My Business
Chapter 32: I’ll See You at Chavez Ravine.
Chapter 33: We are at a loss.
Chapter 34: Those Were the Halcyon Days.
About the Author
Younger fans of Major League Baseball are likely unaware that professional baseball existed on the West Coast prior to the arrival of the Giants and Dodgers in 1958. Taylor chronicles the history of the Hollywood Stars, a franchise of the Pacific Coast League that was active years earlier and played for 20 years. The Stars were ahead of their time in their promotional efforts, employing cheerleaders, featuring games on television, and offering refreshingly different food concessions at the game venue. Seeing such noted celebrities as Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart among the fans was not uncommon. Of particular interest are the author's accounts of the league's coping with the shortage of players during the World War II years, as well as its promotional strategies to boost attendance at games. Featuring interviews with former players, this book offers an inside look at a team whose innovations are still seen in professional baseball. Included are archival photos of players and celebrities who supported the team. Recommended.
There was baseball in Los Angeles before the Brooklyn Dodgers moved there after the 1957 season and there was innovative promotion in the game that predated the shenanigans of Bill Veeck. A colourful and important chapter of baseball history is charismatically told, involving the Pacific Coast League’s Hollywood Stars. Owned by the Brown Derby restaurateur Bob Cobb, the club was supported by the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart and Bing Crosby, the crooner who handed out souvenirs on bat day.
An inside look at the Hollywood Stars, one of the most exciting franchises in the history of the Pacific Coast League, immersing the reader in the culture surrounding it.
I have the pleasure of calling Dan Taylor a television broadcast partner and friend. If there is anyone who off the top of their head could write a book about the history of the Hollywood Stars or the old Pacific Coast League it’s Dan. He is a Star in his own right when it comes to the background of our great game.
In the Hollywood environment great stories from the past are always possible subject matter, and Dan Taylor has become the producer and director of a wonderful story of a baseball team that carried the perfect name of Stars.
Dan Taylor’s irresistible storytelling is only made moredelectable by the intersections of the stories of some of America’s greatest loves: Hollywood stars, baseball, and food! It’s an all-American story of success, failure, and happy little accidents (the “Cobb Salad”!) that combine perfectly for an enticing literary 'main course'!
A restaurateur known for the famous Brown Derby fine dining establishment and a salad which bears his name, Bob Cobb finally gets his due as a baseball pioneer in Lights, Camera, Fastball; a rollicking account of the 20-year history of the Hollywood Stars.
3/21/2021: Writer Joe Guzzardi wrote an article about Paul Petit, a baseball player talked about in Lights, Camera, Fastball.
3/19/2021: Joe Guzzardi writes about the Hollywood Stars, their owner Bob Cobb, and the legacy they left on baseball.
4/27/2021: The Nation writer Tim Shorrock wrote a review of "Poisoning the Pacific" and the environmental impact the US has had on the Pacific.
9/16/21, Orange County Register; The Sun; Daily Breeze Online: The book is included in a listicle of books about California baseball “22 all-star books about California baseball including the Dodgers, Angels, Padres and more.”
OCR Link: https://www.ocregister.com/2021/09/16/22-all-star-books-about-california-baseball-including-the-dodgers-angels-padres-and-more/
Sun Link: https://www.sbsun.com/2021/09/16/22-all-star-books-about-california-baseball-including-the-dodgers-angels-padres-and-more/
DB Link: https://www.dailybreeze.com/2021/09/16/22-all-star-books-about-california-baseball-including-the-dodgers-angels-padres-and-more/
11/30/21, Choice: This book was featured on this list of “Top 75 Community College Titles."