There are injustices throughout the history of baseball that people have tried to remedy with varying degrees of success. Integration was a major injustice on several levels that has been addressed within baseball. While it has not been conquered on all levels, at least on the playing field it went as planned. We are all familiar with the story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey integrating the National League and being racial pioneers within the game. But what about the first player on the American League side? Today’s book takes a look at what transpired for the second racial pioneer in the game Larry Doby, and why he never got the respect, attention or praise that Jackie Robinson received only a few weeks prior.
For me it is easy to understand why Larry Doby is not given as many pioneering accolades as Jackie Robinson, he was #2. Yes he was the first in The American League, but was second under the umbrella that was Major League Baseball at the time. No matter what the sport, being number two is never any good. People only care about the first at whatever it is, so that was a major reason as to why Doby never got as much press at the time. He also was in Cleveland instead of being in New York, a city with three teams which was just coming into its own golden era in the late 1940’s. That factor alone is a big reason why many players got the coverage from the media that they did. Doby could have been in Boise, Idaho and people could not have cared any less than they did when he was in Cleveland. Also his relationship with owner Bill Veeck could have hindered press coverage of his career because of the disdain the other owners and the old boys network had for old sport shirt Bill. These are just some of my ideas that I have had for a while and the book tries to prove some of these, but unfortunately does not make the grade.
Author Douglas Branson is a self proclaimed Larry Doby fan. Finding both Doby and baseball at an early age he always felt that Doby had been slighted by the baseball gods and the media. For various reasons I stated above he seems to want to try and prove these points through his research and other peoples writings. He like to quote a lot of others peoples books in trying to make his case on the above points. That method to me just felt lazy in the research of the book. He also quotes earlier pages in the same book you are currently reading, which at times was driving me nuts. It disrupted the flow of the book and was repetitive as well.
Factually, this book had several flaws as well. I am not sure if it an editing fault in which the person doing it did not have a strong baseball knowledge, or if the editors felt the author’s facts were correct due to his vast self proclaimed baseball knowledge. Either way there are several factual errors within the book. Names, places and events were all part of the problem. There were so many errors it was embarrassing. So many, that even the outside back cover where other authors tell you how great the book you are reading is, contained errors. Usually from this publisher we see fewer errors and this book really surprised me on that front.
As hard as I tried I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities about this Larry Doby volume. I really wanted this to be a good biography, since so few exist. If you are one of those people that have to read any new book that contains anything about Larry Doby or the Cleveland Indians, then no matter what my final synopsis is you will still check it out. But in all honestly, save your money on this, it is so riddled with errors and factual mistakes that it brings into question the entire body of work.
I think there has always been a shortage of Larry Doby material on the market, but this is not the direction it needs to take. We need a quality Doby biography that is factually correct, and gives the man the respect he has deserved for decades.
If you still want to take a look at this one you can get it from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
I figured with my extended time off to recuperate I would have plenty of time to write on my blog. Boy was I wrong, between needing to get up and walk around every ten minutes because I am stiffening up and the fact the the medicines keep knocking me out, I am having trouble finding the time to write, let alone read. But, what it has done is given me the chance to look at some books that I would not always feel were the correct fit for an entire single post. The book could be too short, it could be a coffee table book or it could be a book that doesn’t really target my audience. These are in no way bad books, because honestly if they sucked, I wouldn’t waste the time putting them on here for everyone to look at them, but there is a format issue that doesn’t work well within my bookcase. So from time to time we do one of these multi book posts to clean up one of the shelves in the bookcase……and share some of these books to the world. So here we go…..
Baseball’s No -Hit Wonders-More than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats
By Dirk Lammars-2016
Is it me, or do no hitters seem to happen more often today then they did say thirty of forty years ago? Has the level of play in the league diminished that much that these have become commonplace? Lammers takes the readers through the interesting history of the no hitter and how it has played out through the history of the game. He shows the pitchers and hitters involved, no hitters that were broken up after 26 outs and all the other odd and wacky things that happened in the past to those pitchers, both lucky and good enough to even flirt with a no-no. If your interested in the who, what, when, where and why of no-hitters you will really enjoy what this book will bring to your table. You can get this book from the nice folks at Unbridled Books
The 50 Greatest Players in Pittsburgh Pirates History
By David Finoli-2016
These types of books are always fun. For the one and only reason that no two people will ever agree 100 percent as to who belongs at what spot on the list. I really don’t know what the criteria is by the authors to make it on to these types of lists, but they never seem to disappoint the reader. They always include the Hall of Famers, team superstars as well as the hometown heroes. You would also have to think they target their specified teams fan base so they are always eager to please the homers. I had done this type of book by another author on the Pittsburgh Pirates last year and I went back to pull it out to compare. What I found is that more then half of the players they can agree on being in the book,, but differ on where they rank. So bottom line is if you read one of these books about your team and find another one, check it out because it may give you a different spin on the players that may be more in line with your personal rankings as well. You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield
The BUCS!-The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates
By John McCollister-2016
Lets stay in Pittsburgh for a second on this book. The BUCS! takes a very brief look at the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. From its 19th century beginnings to its current day under field manager Clint Hurdle, this book takes an abbreviated, but fast paced look at the history in Pittsburgh. If the Pirates are not your team and never have been in the past, this book is a great way to get a good albeit brief history from Kiner and Roberto to Bonds and McCutchen. Its only roughly 200 pages, so even if you are familiar with Bucs history it would be a quick and easy refresher course. You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press.
The Legends of the Philadelphia Phillies
By Bob Gordon-2016
What would one of these posts be without a Phillies book? This book, first released by Bob Gordon in 2005, compiles some of the greatest names in Phillies history and gives strong bios on each of those lucky enough to be a Phillie. It gives a great look at team history from an author that has some great ties to the team itself, through several other books he has written. So why do you need to buy the reprint of a book released ten years ago? It has been updated for deaths of the older players and it also has added a few Phillies superstars that became prominent in the last half of the last decade when the Phillies were on top of the world. You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.
The Grind-Inside Baseball’s Endless Season
By Barry Svrluga-2015
Without question, Baseball has the most grueling schedule of all the professional leagues. Almost stretching to nine months of the year when you factor in pre and post season, it would take some sort of toll on even the strongest of personalities. Svrluga has taken a look at this relentless schedule and the effect it has on the personal lives of those involved and how it effects almost everyone involved with a team. It looks at varying position players , the 26th man on most rosters, travelling secretaries, spouses, kids and clubhouse attendants. It really is an interesting look behind the scenes of the game and what those involved are willing to sacrifice to be a part of the great game of baseball. You van get this book from the nice folks at Blue Rider Press
Diamond Madness-Classic Episodes of Rowdyism, Racism and Violence in Major League Baseball
By William A. Cook-2013
William Cook’s Diamond Madness gives the reader a good look at the scary side of baseball. When you get beyond all of the normal hero worship that comes as part of the normal territory with the game and when those things get really scary. Fan obsessions, death threats, violence, racism, shootings and robberies are all just a part of what is shown to the readers of this book. It is amazing how even though these are normal stories in the everyday world, they are so many times magnified just by playing baseball. It also goes to show how much work the people behind the scenes in baseball put in to making sure nothing tarnishes the wholesomeness of the American Past-time. I think if you check this out it will show some new perspectives to the average fan of what really goes on. You can get this book from the nice folks at Sunbury Press.
Tales From the Atlanta Braves Dugout
By Cory McCartney-2016
I will admit it………..I love this series! You can get whatever team you wish at this point because it seems like almost every team is available now. You can also use it as a history lesson to brush up on all the funny stories of a team that you are not very familiar with and get a good feel for what that teams history is all about. If you grab the book of your favorite team it is a chance to regale in all the stories you have heard time and time again and like a favorite uncle at a holiday dinner, are glad to listen to over and over. You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.
I See the Crowd Roar-The Story of William “Dummy” Hoy
By Joseph Rotheli & Agnes Gaertner-2014
This book is intended for a younger audience but it does provide a very deep lesson for all fans. William Hoy was hearing impaired and never heard a single fan cheer for him. The book shows how Hoy overcame his disability and made the best if it as well as keeping up a positive attitude during the course of events. The book also shows the positive impact had on the function of the game and how things like hand signals that were originally implemented for Hoy alone, have become mainstays of the game generations later. It truly is an inspiring story that younger fans should be made aware of so they have a complete baseball education. There is also a movie version of the book in the pipeline as well. You can get this book from the nice folks at the lil-red-foundation.
Black Baseball, Black Business-Race Enterprise and the Fate of the Segregated Dollar
By Roberta Newman & Joel Nathan Rosen-2014
In baseball nothing is ever as simple as it seems. This book takes a look at how the integration of baseball, while a great thing on the civil rights front, created waves that destroyed black economies in the larger cities that were homes to Negro League Teams. It is a really interesting look at the economies of the integration of baseball on those parties that were not in any way involved in the decision making process or the game of baseball itself. It also shows how the innocents involved were essentially destroyed by the baseball powers that were at the time pushing it as a cause for greater good.
When you are #2 at something it has to be difficult. Everyone always remembers who the first to do something was, but sometimes the importance when you are second is diminished. In baseball, when you come in second in anything, it isn’t a good thing. Being Jackie Robinson day in Major League Baseball, I figured we should take a look at the man who was the second person to integrate baseball. He was the first in the American League, but second overall, so we should not forget him on this momentous day.
Larry Doby was the first player to integrate the American League in 1947 with the Cleveland Indians. He arrived roughly 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson integrated the National League with the Dodgers. The racial climate being what it was at that time, the challenges Doby faced were no different from the struggles of Robinson. Intolerance, segregation and violence were just some of the challenges both men faced at that time. Each man handled themselves with dignity and were assets to both of their teams on and off the field. Unfortunately when you are the #2 guy, you don’t always get the same praise that the #1 guy gets.
Such is the case with Larry Doby. There are tons of biographies about Jackie Robinson and his efforts, but Doby seems to be a neglected subject. There are a few biographies out there on Doby, but today’s book takes a look at the struggles he faced with the Indians. Honestly between Robinson and Doby it was two different men in two different cities but the same old problems. Both were pioneers in their own right but again its #1 versus #2, and in the end #2 lives in the shadow of #1.
This book takes a nice look at Doby’s career and what he accomplished on and off the field. Larry Doby may not have been as outspoken on matters as Jackie Robinson, or even Satchel Paige for that matter, but he did leave an undeniable mark on the game for all of time. Doby was a quiet man and that probably plays into the fact that his legacy gets run over by Robinson’s. It’s time as fans we take the time to give Larry Doby his due and learn as much as we can about his great career.
Fans should pick up this book and enjoy a little history lesson. The pioneers of baseball endured incredible pain to become part of the game, and that struggle did not begin and end with just Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
You can pick up this book from the nice folks at Praeger Publishers
It’s funny how a baseball book can scratch the surface but never quite get all the way through. With biographies that seems to be especially true. For reasons unknown, perhaps shame, emotional reasons, or whatever some guys just never will give up the whole story. As writers and interviewees they have every right to do so, but in the end, it always leaves questions in the reader’s mind. Baseball players play an intricate part in the fans life. You spend 8 plus months following a player each year. Stats, stories, news and dramatic plays all find their way into our daily lives. So its only natural to want to know as much about your favorite players as possible. Unfortunately even after they publish a book you may not get all your answers. For me today’s book left me with some unanswered questions.
I have always felt the George Scott was underrated. Possibly because of some of the teams he played on and being overshadowed by his own teammates. Maybe it was the fact he had the same type of relationship with the media that Dick Allen had, and that effected his popularity. Regardless of the reason I never felt Boomer got his due. Due to that fact, you never really felt you knew or understood George Scott as well as some of the other players on the team. Ron Anderson has finally given the world a book that helps people understand and appreciate George Scott. The author did some serious homework with this book. Compiling interviews with Scott himself and countless friends, family and even some enemies, he has been able to portray a side of the man we never saw on the field.
From Scott’s beyond poor upbringing in segregated and violent Mississippi, his struggles to reach the major leagues and make it with the Boston Red Sox, you see a portrait of what made the man. Events that helped guide his life and molded his personality. You see daily struggles that he had to over come just because of the color of his skin and how those struggles effected him all of his days. You also see confrontations that were a result of all of these issues.
When you think of great sluggers, George Scott does not jump into a lot of people’s minds. He did have a very solid 14 year career and put up some pretty healthy numbers. This book does give some insight into the man, his career and events that unfolded before and during baseball that both helped and hurt him. The only part I would have liked to see is more about his life after baseball, off-seasons and more on a personal level. It did not lack in giving George the credit he deserved in any way. He finally got his due, it just felt like some part of the complete story of Boomer’s life may have been omitted. Perhaps by accident or by design, but in the end I still felt a little void.
Baseball fans of all teams will enjoy this one. You get a chance to relive a career that most times gets forgotten.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland Publishing
There are certain people in baseball that when you mention their name you can get countless things that they are remembered for. Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey are two such people who are remembered for various things of monumental proportions that changed the game we love. From the integration of baseball to the development of farm systems they both left the game in a better state than when they arrived. Today’s book takes a look behind the scenes of their biggest and best remembered project the integration of baseball by a writer who witnessed it first hand.
When I saw this book my first thought was why do we need to go down this road again? Have we not covered every angle as to what transpired leading up to the implementation of the project in 1947? It has been almost 70 years since this happened, so what stone was left unturned? Yes it is possibly the biggest single event in all of baseball in the 20th century and something we as a society should remember for both its social and historical value, but why now?
Roger Kahn is an accomplished and talented writer whom I enjoy reading his work. He has created a book that recounts the historical events of Branch Rickey’s project, and shows events that someone without first hand knowledge may not have known. Kahn recounts conversations with Dodgers management, other writers and people he associated with at that time. Bits of information that may have been inadvertently left out of the story at the original time or maybe on purpose, I’m not quite sure. The conversations he is recalling in this book are with people who have passed away, so there is no real basis to refute the private off the record conversations that Kahn has had with others. The reader is left to decide how much faith the have in Kahn ethically and did these conversations really ever happen?
If you take the book at it face value and accept the stories he tells as fact, then the book becomes an enjoyable first hand account of a historical moment. If you look at the aspect that Roger Kahn is the last living person involved in all these conversations, and then question the accuracy of comments, then you will ruin the book for yourself. Being Kahn’s self-proclaimed last book, I am not sure how to take the conversations. I can see the book from both sides of the fence, but would like to think after all these years of reading Kahn’s writing that there is no reason to even ask the integrity question.
Baseball fans need to read this and form their own opinions. It may be hearsay to some degree if you look at the book from that aspect, but it still is an enjoyable read from the history standpoint. Also as Kahn’s last work it does have some historical value in its own right due to that fact.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Rodale
As they say, good things happen in three, so lets check out a third stadium book this week. Some stadiums both past and presents are icons within baseball. Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, The Polo Grounds and last but not least, Ebbets Field. Located of course in Brooklyn, it was the scene of many disappointments, but also an enduring love affair between the Brooklyn fans and their Bums. Very few connections between a team and their fans has rivaled what the Dodgers had in Brooklyn.
The Greatest Ballpark Ever, Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers
By Bob McGee – 2013 Rivergate Press
New York Baseball prior to 1958 had to be something amazing to experience. Three iconic teams within spitting distance of each other, with at least one of them fighting for a pennant each year. Each of those teams had a special place in their communities and the fans gave them their heartfelt support. The Dodgers seemed to be the strongest in their fan support and the weakest on the field. While playing in charming Ebbets Field the Dodgers always were waiting for next year. Most times next year never came but their fans stood behind them.
Bob McGee has written a very interesting book that chronicles the Dodgers time in Ebbets Field. It takes a look at all the unique factors that made Ebbets Field what it was and why it holds such a special place in baseball history. What the author also does is give in-depth coverage of the people and the history of the Dodgers during that same time period. You get stories about the building of the park and the obstacles that were overcome to create it. You also get stories about the Dodgers in the early part of the twentieth century as well as the years leading up to integration. Finally, you learn about the final years of Ebbets Field and the vacating of the team to Los Angeles.
It seems when you have a book about the Brooklyn Dodgers it is always full of integration stories and how Brooklyn changed the game. While it was the most important single event in the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers and to some degree baseball as well, it is not all their past glory. When you read some other books you might get the impression Jackie Robinson was the only thing that happened in Brooklyn in the first half of the century. This book in no way ignores the importance of Jackie Robinson, but it does also remember the other team accomplishments. This is the most comprehensive Brooklyn Dodgers history I have come across prior to Jackie Robinson’s first appearance.
This book should be a must have for the history students of the game and Dodger fans alike.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Rivergate Books
In life sometimes you find people, that no matter the circumstances, just don’t click. It could be differences in personality, belief differences, values or a host of other reasons. Todays book takes an in-depth look at Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and the relationship they had during the integration of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Jackie & Campy
By: William C. Kashatus – 2014 University of Nebraska Press
Jackie Robinson was obviously the player chosen by Branch Rickey to integrate the Dodgers. We are all familiar with Robinson so really no need to go through the history of integration here. Roy Campanella was also chosen by Branch Rickey to further integrate the Dodgers after the success of Robinson. The fascinating part about this story is that these two men were chosen to do the same job, and had such extremely different personalities.
Jackie Robinson was deeply planted in his beliefs and was very prideful.. He understood what his place in history was going to be and realized that it would lead to the opportunity to further the cause in society. Roy Campanella was a former Negro League player and understood what the cause was trying to promote. The difference was that Roy wanted to just play baseball and not be a crusader for the cause. He was never one looking to rock the boat or make a point. Both men were aware of their place in history, they just went about securing that place in different ways.
Kahatus does a very nice job in this book. He takes the approach that the reader is not very familiar with the entire process that ensued with Branch Rickey’s great experiment. He details each players background on and off the field, and the steps that Rickey walked them through prior to reaching Brooklyn. If you are very familiar or well read on baseball integration, this part may be a little tedious for you. Next the author moves to the on field activities between the Dodgers and the other teams. It shows the bigotry and events that transpired during this ground breaking time. Again it may be a little tedious for the reader if they are well versed in these events.
The most interesting part of this book I found was the dynamic between Robinson and Campanella. You see how their difference of opinion as to what their role in integration was, created friction between the two teammates and eventually led to animosity in the clubhouse. It’s an interesting look at the way two people fighting for equality and acceptance were not able to extend that courtesy to each other. It is the first time I came across this story and found it quite interesting. The chapters leading up to this section may be repetitive and found in other books, but the last section made the book worthwhile. These two men made a lasting impression and changed the game for the better and proved they were human as well. If you are not well read in the history of baseball integration this book does a great job of giving you a comprehensive picture. If you are well versed on it, all is not lost. You do get some new information that makes it worth the time to read.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Nebraska Press