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We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 8, 2008
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Rube Foster was the founder of the Negro National League. Said he of his men, "We are the ship: all else the sea." All long as there has been baseball in America there have been African-American ballplayers. Men like Sol White and Bud Fowler. Before Rube Foster, however, there was no organized professional league. Then, on February 20, 1920, Rube called together owners of black baseball teams, like himself, and the Negro National League began. Through the collective voice of the players, we hear about these years and these men who played together. We hear about amazing plays, crazy rules, outright characters, and the greats. We hear about the hardships of being a player, including the low pay and the dangers of playing in the South.Read more ›
Black baseball had its own superstars. These included Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, and the great Satchel Paige. This was a period when Negro players frequently couldn't find hotels that would let them stay overnight or restaurants that would serve them. Frequently, they spent nights sleeping in their buses or in tents beside the road.
Not only is this book an intriguing account of Negro League Baseball, but Kadir Nelson's illustrative paintings are outstanding works of art.
The bind black players were caught in is illustrated by baseball's great white pitcher Walter Johnson's comment about the talented catcher Josh Gibson, "He can do everything. He hits the ball a mile. And he catches so easy he might as well be in a rocking chair....too bad this Gibson is a colored fellow." Gibson was so good that some people said Babe Ruth should have been called "the white Josh Gibson."
Nelson portrays the "triumphs and defeats on and off the field," as well as adding intriguing facts. Did you know that Satchel Paige had a wonderful singing voice? That Oscar Charleston was such a mean son-of-a-gun that he once snatched the hood off a Ku Klux Klansman? Or that Louis Armstrong owned the "Secret Nine" ball club and that Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was part-owner of the New York Black Yankees?
An especially moving part of this book deals with the exhibition and barnstorming games members of the Negro League played against white major leaguers: "I guess we beat those major leaguers as often as we did because we could out-think them.Read more ›
But the text alone isn't what makes this book so great. The artwork is stunning in this oversize book, and hardly a page goes by that doesn't have a full page painting (including one fold-out). Some are simple poses of the men on the field and a few show them getting off trains or riding on the bus, but my favorites are the ones that show the action of the game. Several would be good enough to hang on the wall (as reprints, of course, not cut from the book). It has a look and style of the old depression-era artwork that was used in murals and public places.
My little-league son and I have been reading the book and have both learned a lot.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simple, effective writing. Beautiful drawings. But it is only a BRIEF introduction to Negro Baseball. We baseball fans love our detail and statistics and digging deep. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Beatriz Fernandez
This is a beautiful book! Kadir Nelson is a gifted visual artist who is also a wonderful storyteller. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Karen E. Dabney Daytime Star
This is a wonderful introduction to the history of the Negro Leagues. Nelson has so completely captured in his art and writing the essence of the era. Read morePublished 4 months ago by 72Garden
Got this book from a book store a few years ago. Just ordered it for a friend who's a long-time baseball fan.
It's not just a book -- it's an experience. Read more