From Publishers Weekly
The Boston Red Sox' inability to win the World Series is one of the most familiar oddities in sport; the club's peculiar relationship with race is not quite so well known. Bryant, who's covered the Oakland A's and the New York Yankees for daily newspapers, brings excellent journalistic instincts and baseball smarts to the table. And he's a Boston native to boot, meaning he's properly versed about the city that former Celtic hero Bill Russell once called "a flea market of racism." Bryant examines looks at Jackie Robinson's doomed Fenway tryout in 1945 and at Pumpsie Green, who eventually became the Red Sox' first black player, a full dozen years after Robinson broke the color barrier. An unspectacular player, Green was befriended on the field by Ted Williams and by Russell off, as both tried to shield him from the pervasive vitriol. Bryant visits the modern era as well, reporting that the Sox did not sign a black free agent until 1993, and detailing slugger Mo Vaughn's mercurial stint in Boston. An MVP in 1995, the New England-reared Vaughn embraced his role in the race debate, even wearing Robinson's old number. Bryant illustrates both the ballplayer's dedication to community service and his repeated run-ins with the law, and wonders if Vaughn was run out of town by the press and team management. Throughout the book, Bryant looks at both sides of the race issue, and backs his conclusions with exhaustive research from a variety of sources.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This important study by sportswriter Bryant examines the race relations of one of baseball's most storied teams, the Boston Red Sox, from the early 1930s to the present. During most of that period, the Red Sox were owned by the Yawkee family, taken to task here for their insensitivity regarding race or outright racism. So, too, is Boston, notwithstanding its reputation as "a cradle of liberty." Bryant relays the seldom-told story of Jackie Robinson's April 1945 tryout with the team, which resulted in someone (possibly owner Tom Yawkee) booming out a racial epithet. Having passed on Robinson, the Red Sox did the same with Willie Mays. The franchise was the last to include an African American player on its roster, utility infielder Pumpsie Green. Unlike Green, outfielder Reggie Smith challenged racial norms while with Boston and paid the price. The team's, and Boston's, relationship with other black stars, including Jim Rice and Ellis Burks, was also troubled. Even Luis Tiant, the heart and soul of the mid-1970s Red Sox, was hardly treated better by the team in contractual negotiations. Only recently have black players (such as Pedro Martinez) felt more welcomed. For general libraries.R.C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.