Summer of Shadows
"Knight describes the on-and-off-field pennant race and Series action with breathless excitement that will thrill readers more than half-century later..."
-Akron Beacon Journal
"Jonathan Knight has hammered a grand slam of a book in his account of the American League Champion Cleveland Indians, the Sam Sheppard trial, the City of Cleveland and our country in 1954. If you love the Tribe, Cleveland and history, this is a must-read."
-Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Summer of Shadows is an intertwining narrative that tells the story of the 1954 Cleveland Indians (which would etch itself in history as one of the greatest baseball teams in MLB history) and the infamous murder of the wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard in their home along the shore of Lake Erie—which held both the city and the nation spellbound that summer. Both of these generation-defining stories take place in the final days of the “Best Location in the Nation,” the nickname for the Cleveland of the 1950s, which truly was one of the great and most influential cities in America.
The Sheppard case would influence the television series The Fugitive a decade later and give Cleveland’s reputation a black eye following the shoddy and unethical behavior of the city’s police department and news media, which led to the conviction of an innocent man. Meanwhile, the 1954 Indians would post the greatest season in American League history and dethrone the five-time-champion New York Yankees in a dramatic pennant race, culminating in a September doubleheader before 86,000 fans at Cleveland Stadium. The powerful Indians would then be swept by Willie Mays and the New York Giants in the World Series. These two parallel tragedies harbinger an onslaught of adversity that dragged Cleveland from its lofty standing as a leading American city to one with a bleak—even comic—reputation.
Summer of Shadows is essentially a postcard from that gilded age, when the city enjoyed its own golden October, not knowing that decades of dismal, bitter winter lay ahead.