Three years ago, Los Angeles Times writer David Lamb unleashed a Page 1 zinger aimed at Salt Lake City that made the locals cringe.
"Salt Lake is a Perry Como kind of place, an America of the '50s holding out against the beat of heavy metal," he wrote, raising the hackles of Mayor Palmer DePaulis and other Salt Lake boosters.Well, here we go again. Lamb's latest book, "Stolen Season," echoes the characterization.
The book is an account of Lamb's trip, via recreational vehicle, through minor-league America in the summer of 1989. The author visited various minor-league baseball teams along the way, and one of them was the Salt Lake Trappers.
In each chapter, Lamb intertwines his notes on the team with his observations on the town, including his observations of Salt Lake City.
Lamb, who visited Salt Lake City as part of a book tour, still is perplexed about Salt Lakers' reaction to his Feb. 3, 1988, Times article that first contained the Perry Como-'50s reference to Utah's capital.
DePaulis was so annoyed by the article that he wrote a letter of protest to the Times. Lamb said a Salt Lake television station offered to fly him back here to debate the mayor.
At the time, Lamb was a roving feature writer based in Los Angeles. He's now a national correspondent based in Washington. But he still remembers the angry calls from Utah.
"I was amazed at the defensiveness in the calls," he said. "People were saying, `Why did you put that story on Page 1? Are you out to get us, are you out to get Salt Lake, and are you out to get the Mormon Church?' "
Even though Lamb repeats his description of Salt Lake City in his new book, he also makes it clear he was crazy about the Trappers.
"The Trappers appealed because they were us," Lamb writes in his book. "They were a team dedicated to everyone who has ever closed up a bar alone at two in the morning or lost the daily double in a photo finish.
"They were proof there would be another day and another race. If you didn't embrace them, you were probably one of the people who rooted for Goliath over David and never believed reindeer could fly."
Along the way, Lamb did more than just check on minor-league teams. He also checked out the alumni of his boyhood team, the old Milwaukee Braves of the '50s.
Lamb found some of those Braves in middle age on his 1989 trip across the country and mixed their stories in with his own.