Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit

Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit

by Tom Stanton


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A New York Times Bestseller
Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Winner in True Crime

Detroit, mid-1930s: In a city abuzz over its unrivaled sports success, gun-loving baseball fan Dayton Dean became ensnared in the nefarious and deadly Black Legion. The secretive, Klan-like group was executing a wicked plan of terror, murdering enemies, flogging associates, and contemplating armed rebellion. The Legion boasted tens of thousands of members across the Midwest, among them politicians and prominent citizens—even, possibly, a beloved athlete.

Terror in the City of Champions opens with the arrival of Mickey Cochrane, a fiery baseball star who roused the Great Depression’s hardest-hit city by leading the Tigers to the 1934 pennant. A year later he guided the team to its first championship. Within seven months the Lions and Red Wings follow in football and hockey—all while Joe Louis chased boxing’s heavyweight crown.

Amidst such glory, the Legion’s dreadful toll grew unchecked: staged “suicides,” bodies dumped along roadsides, high-profile assassination plots. Talkative Dayton Dean’s involvement would deepen as heroic Mickey’s Cochrane’s reputation would rise. But the ballplayer had his own demons, including a close friendship with Harry Bennett, Henry Ford’s brutal union buster.

Award-winning author Tom Stanton weaves a stunning tale of history, crime, and sports. Richly portraying 1930s America, Terror in the City of Champions features a pageant of colorful figures: iconic athletes, sanctimonious criminals, scheming industrial titans, a bigoted radio priest, a love-smitten celebrity couple, J. Edgar Hoover, and two future presidents, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. It is a rollicking true story set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493015702
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 06/01/2016
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,177,133
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Tom Stanton is the author of several nonfiction books, among them the critically acclaimed memoir The Final Season and the Quill Award finalist Ty and The Babe. A longtime journalist, he teaches at the University of Detroit Mercy. Stanton co-founded and edited the suburban Detroit Voice newspapers, winning state and national press awards, including a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. He and wife Beth Bagley-Stanton live in New Baltimore, Michigan.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Part I Something Afoot, 1933-1934

Mickey and Dayton 3

A Friend Disappears 15

Spring in Lakeland 16

Major-General Bert 22

A Future Together 30

The Bee Is Buzzing 32

Neither Threats Nor Bribes 36

It Hurt for Days 43

The Little Stone Chapel 52

The Superstitious Schoolboy and His Gal 60

Happy Rosh Hashanah, Hank 69

Oh, Those Dean Boys 77

The Attorney down the Street 87

Part II Grand Plans, 1935

A New Year 101

Mr. Hoover, Investigate 103

Harry's Caravan 113

The Radio Priest 121

The Killing of Silas Coleman 128

Worries 135

Unwanted Attention 145

Zero Hour 153

Louis vs. Baer 159

World Champions 165

Amid the Joy, Punishment 178

The Pastor Who Said No 182

Uncle Frank 189

Come to Detroit, Lindbergh 192

Part III Joy and Terror, 1936

Cape Closed 203

City of Champions 214

Rumors 222

Poole and Pidcock 230

Secrets 236

Black Legion Hysteria 244

Frenzied Nerves 255

Dayton Dean and the Negro Reporter 257

The Captain 260

Wyoming 267

The Cover-Up 270

Epilogue 277

Acknowledgments 283

Notes 285

Bibliography 309

Index 315

About the Author 329

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Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can say enough good things about this book. As a Detroiter and 1930s history buff, I was not a hard sell. But, the writing flows like a novel, and I flew through the pages. I learned much I didn't jknow, especially about the Black Legion. It alarms me that a good deal of what I read about the Legion sounds like current events. I cannot recommend this book highly enouh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it