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 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
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