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
This time of year with Spring Training in full swing, it reminds us of all the exciting possibilities this upcoming year has to offer. Everyone is looking forward to all the games and highlights in the near future, but the business end of baseball is the furthest thing from most fans minds. Truth be told, somewhere, someone is attending to the business end of the game and always has. Most fans don’t think about the contract negotiations that take place, the players working conditions that the union fights for or the meal money stipend the players get. These are all the realities of the game and have been for decades. It may be hard to comprehend for the average fan why these are important and further more how they arrived at where they stand today, but today’s book takes the time to explain what has transpired throughout the history of the game in regards to working conditions.
Krister Swanson has created a really interesting book. It starts from the very early years of the game and shows what relations were like between the owners and players. It was more of a parental relationship versus a business one. It shows how the owners were able to realize what an advantages they had in the reserve clause and how to use it to their own benefit. The author shows how owners were able to maintain low salaries and reap all the rewards without having to share almost anything with their players.
Swanson also shows that the players started to realize how they were being exploited by the owners and attempted to improve conditions both on the field and monetarily. The few feeble attempts at first which finally led to the formation of the MLBPA are chronicled in these pages. I don’t think the owners or the establishment of the game itself had any idea what the possibilities were for the newly formed union. It shows the union’s rise to power, how the media helped that and the fans sympathy that would help them along their journey. The book also covers the few short strikes and lockouts along the way that occurred, just to keep things interesting.
The problem I had with the book is it seemed to stop the history lesson after the 1981 players strike. I know as a fan, there were other strikes that occurred after 1981 and they were very influential on the shape of the game we now know. Obviously there are other books out there that cover these strikes, but I think for complete coverage of the topic it should have been included in some shape or form in this book. The only other problem I had was it said that Bob Feller played his entire career for the Braves. I mean for me that is a huge error that should have been caught by someone.
Overall this is a very entertaining book. It gives a great and thorough history lesson that even the most die hard baseball fan will be able to gain some knowledge from, plus the early years of labor relations within the game are not always widely covered.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
I have said this in one of my prior posts that I have the utmost respect for Bob Feller. His service to our country, his baseball career and the stand up guy he was, speak volumes about his character. While most of us don’t think much beyond his Hall of Fame career, he really was an incredible personality who was a great ambassador for the game. Feller has been the subject of, or involved in several books throughout his life so my first question upon seeing today’s book is why do we need another one now? One of my very first posts on this site was Bob Feller’s Little Black Baseball Book, and quite honestly I wasn’t all that impressed. So this book had me going into it questioning why it even existed.
I was hoping I was going to find some great insight into life and about baseball from this book that I may have missed in Feller’s Black Book. I thought maybe I was too hard on that book in the review I wrote and perhaps it was me as the reader, that was not connecting with that books message. Well, after reading two of these books, I am confident in saying……I am not the problem here.
Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom has really given the reader nothing more than the Black Book did. It is background on Feller’s childhood and how he had the greatest childhood ever. Nothing could ever top Feller’s skill or experiences on the field and in his own eyes he has lived a charmed life all of his own doing. At times the book comes off quite pretentious and somewhat overbearing.
I originally wondered why we needed this book, and I am now still wondering why. It is essentially a reworded version of the Black Book and doesn’t give the reader any new information. I realize the publication of the books is the good part of a decade apart, but it to me is essentially an updated volume of the black book. I have trouble recommending anyone who has Bob Feller’s Little Black Book to drop the money to pick up Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book. To me it is really just the same recycled stories and Feller patting himself on the back.
Indians fans who have a strong association with Bob Feller will enjoy it just because the hometown boy wrote a book. Fans in other cities should probably pick either the Blue Book or the Black Book because essentially you are getting the same product in a different color.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books
Let me start this out by saying I respect Bob Feller. I respect his outstanding Pitching career and his Hall of Fame stature. I respect his service to our great country and the career sacrifices he made to perform his service. I also respect the ambassador that he was to great game of Baseball.
Now all that being said I don’t always understand what purpose a book like this serves. I really expected like the title says some Baseball Wisdom. I did not expect the obligatory childhood background. I figured that was something that was covered in some of the other Feller books he had written. But what I got on this was stories about his childhood and the typical way that an elder statesman would put it…..walking uphill to school both ways 20 miles each way in a blinding blizzard in July. I expected some stories about his career or personal insights in to the locker room. Instead you get his thoughts on why any generation after the 1950’s basically suck.
The book comes off as to some degree bitter about why subsequent generations after his never worked hard enough and he had the best upbringing in the world and no one could have had a better childhood. Bob Feller name drops a lot in this book. Almost every person he talks about in the book when you get to the end of their paragraph he ends it “with that’s why they are a close personal friend of mine”. Well I am no bright informed reader but I sort of figured if you were talking about them like that …..well then you guys were probably friends to some degree.
Its starts with his childhood of which no one in the world had more loving parents or had a better childhood. Then moves to his career of which he was not shy as to say how great he was then to his proud military service which I as stated above respect. Then we move back to his career after the service then life after baseball then the world after baseball that seems to nowhere meet the work ethic and standard of Bob Feller. Don’t even ask about Steroids and Hall of Fame standards because that seems to be hot button with him as well.
The Book flows well in the fact that it is broken up into very small subject versus being broken into longer chapters which makes it feel as if its moving quickly even when belaboring a point. But at least it is a short read in being under 150 pages.
I really wanted this book to be good…..I swear I did just because of my respect for Bob Feller. But as I said above he does come off somewhat bitter about the world today and the people of today. It almost seemed as is if this would be something that you would hear from your crotchety old grandfather when complaining about what lazy slackers his grand kids are. I don’t know if this is because it was later in his life that this was written or if time has just left him bitter overall. But the end result was I was disappointed in the book overall but did lead me to my next question….If I read his other book, Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book…..what am I going to get different…..because it was written six years after this one.
The piece of irony about this book for me is as follows and really has nothing to do with the book itself. I traded a signed Jose Canseco Baseball for a signed copy of this book. So I traded a baseball of an evil steroids user…..one of the people he despises for a copy of his book. So somewhere out there in the Universe or beyond I think Bob Feller is pretty pissed at me….especially after this review!