Photo: Eric Stone
Photo: Eric Stone
Photo: Eric Stone
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REVIEWS Wrong Side of the Wall

"Eric Stone's riveting account of Blackie Schwamb's great baseball talent and equally great character defects is so much more than a sports story. It is a fascinating trip along a life on the edge, in and out of trouble, golden opportunities and missed chances. Damon Runyon would have been proud to tell the tale of Blackie."
   —Tom Brokaw, longtime NBC anchorman and best selling author.

"Blackie Schwamb's story is classic tragedy—flawed, physically brilliant, unable to deal with his demons. This is not a "sports" story, it is Eric Stone's brilliant study of a flawed man with a great talent who had such a talent that he started against Bob Feller, went to The Mob and ended up pitching in prison leagues. Stone weaves the life of this tragic figure against the tapestry of the lifeline of both L.A.and The Mob. It is brilliant, chilling and real."
   —Peter Gammons, three-time National Sportscaster of the Year, ESPN Baseball Tonight studio analyst

"Eric Stone... does a brilliant job recounting the tragic turns of Schwamb's life. Of all the baseball books coming out this spring, this is the one I couldn't put down."
   —John Curtis, The San Diego Union Tribune

"Ralph "Blackie" Schwamb was a part-time gangster, part-time baseball player, and full-time alcoholic. Growing up hard in Depression-era Los Angeles, he had the muscle and size to serve him well in both vocations. Stone interweaves interesting tidbits of popular culture and history (particularly that of Los Angeles). Recommended for most medium to large public libraries."
   —Library Journal

"Given that our nation has watched a parade of ballplayers from Darryl Strawberry to Ken Caminiti march to the beat of their own self-destruction, it's useful to remember that there's nothing terribly modern about the spectacle of an athlete throwing it all away.... Stone found the answer not in the rough-and-tumble world of the 1940s minor league circuit, which he vividly evokes, nor in the even rougher, more sordid world of organized crime in L.A. Rather, he discovered it in a broken-down old man he encountered living in a metal-slab-sided house in Lancaster, Calif."
   —Sports Illustrated

"Possibly one of the most disturbing baseball biographies ever written."
   —USA Today Sports Weekly

"Stone breathes life into an obscure baseball player, describing a career that should have been great but wasn't. Stone wrote that he wanted to know how Schwamb, "someone with so much right in his life, could go so utterly wrong." Schwamb's answers were compelling, and Stone does a fine job of setting the record straight."
   —The Tampa Tribune

"Baseball rarely edges into noir, but this compelling biography by Eric Stone reads as if it had been filmed in black and white in the golden age of film noir Hollywood. Mesmerized by the waste of it all, yet tempted to hope because of his talent, we follow the story of a brilliant but flawed player, Blackie Schwamb, whose career was derailed through the tragic consequences of gangland connections."
   —Kevin Starr, author of "Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003"

"Blackie Schwamb pitched in the American League for the St. Louis Browns. Blackie Schwamb pitched in Folsom and San Quentin... Youâll finish "Wrong Side of the Wall" asking yourself, "What if...?"
   —Joe Garagiola, former major league ballplayer, radio and television broadcaster, and bestselling author of "Baseball is a Funny Game"

"As a ten-year-old St. Louis Browns fan, I saw the apple-cheek side of baseball and loved it. Eric Stone's look at the dark underside is eerie, fascinating, and impossible to put down."
   —Win Blevins, author of "Beauty for Ashes"

"an intriguing saga..."
   —Ed Bark, The Dallas Morning News