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 have reviewed several books from Clerisy Press here on the Bookcase in the past. Every book we looked at was tied to the Cincinnati Reds, and there long and glorious history. They have done a great job with the Reds series and always allow fans to get detailed and complete stories. Now I have some other offerings from the same publisher that helps fans make sure they can enjoy the baseball season every single day of the year.
John Snyder and Clerisy Press have created this oddball series of books that are a lot of fun for fans of each individual baseball team. Birthdays, stadium milestones, historical team events, team personnel as well as any other thing to mark a historical occasion or event in your teams history are captured here.
Each book has been broken down to into date format so you can see what happened on any particular date. So readers can read it in various ways. You can sit down and read the book at one shot or you can read a page a day and spread the fun out through the entire year. Readers can even pick certain days they want to check out, like your birthday, wife’s birthday, anniversary, dog’s birthday, tax day, the possibilities are endless to make the book fun for the readers. It allows the fan to make sure every day even during the off-season, has a little baseball in it.
I also think books like this are a great learning tools for new fans. They allow you to get team history in a fun and interesting way. They are a basic history lesson of the team in small bites, so you are actually learning something without realizing it. When did the Cardinals set a major league record for using the most pitchers in a shutout? How are the Dodgers involved in the only foul ball fatality? How many managers did the Red Sox have in 1907? When was the longest game at Wrigley Field…..and no it was not 1979? These are the fun things you will get in each of these books, and John Snyder has hit a home run with research and attention to detail which allows him to bring forth to the fans informative, enjoyable and fun books.
You can get all of these books from the nice folks at Clerisy Press
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