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Beyond the Shadow of the Senators : The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball Paperback – January 20, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Snyder looks at the roots of Jackie Robinson's integration of major league baseball, but examines that historic event from a variety of angles. This well-documented and enjoyable account illuminates the life of Sam Lacy, a crusading black journalist for a Washington, D.C., black weekly, and his efforts to force major league baseball to integrate. But the book is also a fascinating and largely untold story about the unholy but profitable alliance between Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators, and the dynamic but shady Negro League team owner Cum Posey, founder of the Homestead Grays, a storied Negro League franchise founded in Pittsburgh. Using the burgeoning black middle class of WWII Washington, D.C., as a social backdrop, Snyder details how Negro League owners like Posey allied themselves financially with white Major League owners, renting segregated Major League ballparks (at exorbitant rates) for their Negro League teams while the white teams were on the road. The practice became particularly profitable in Washington after Posey moved his Homestead Grays (and such black stars as Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson) to D.C. from Pittsburgh in 1940. Disgusted by the Senators' racist owners and the team's inept play, black fans flocked to the pennant-winning Grays' games, which outdrew the Senators' games. Snyder also sketches the lives of great players like Buck Leonard with great sensitivity, insight and historical context. The book tells two stories: one is how the Griffiths, a legendary baseball family, killed baseball in Washington, D.C., through their own narrow-minded greed and racism; the other is the story of Lacy and Wendell Smith, his fellow black Hall of Fame sportswriter, and the extraordinary black athletes of the Negro Leagues and their determination to play baseball at its highest level.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Historical accounts of major league baseball's integration too often begin and end with one white owner, Branch Rickey, and one black player, Jackie Robinson. But, as with any significant historical milestone, things are never as simple as they seem. Snyder, who covered baseball for the Baltimore Sun, spent 10 years researching a little-known side skirmish in the battle to integrate the national pastime, one that took place in the shadow of the federal government. This struggle involved the white owner of the major-league Washington Senators, Clark Griffith, who was not as evil as he was penurious, and a black player, Buck Leonard, who was a more talented player than Robinson and probably every bit as courageous. The wild card in the Washington mix was Sam Lacy, a black journalist inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1997. Lacy, an eloquent supporter of integration, covered the Homestead Grays, a Negro League team that played in Griffith's ballpark when his Senators were on the road. Griffith vigorously opposed major-league baseball's integration because the rent from the Grays kept his other team afloat. Leonard, the star of the Grays, often referred to as the "black Lou Gehrig," was thought by many to be the logical choice to integrate the game. Snyder weaves the personal stories of Lacy, Griffith, and Leonard into a textured account of a time when baseball symbolized the nation at large and when those with vision understood the implications of integrating an experience shared by so many Americans. A fascinating, little-known chapter in the familiar story of baseball's color line. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (January 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071431977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071431972
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,240,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Brad Snyder shows us that early 20th Century African-Americans weren't only progressing in academics at the nearby venerated Howard University; they were also making strides in professional sports by sharing Griffith Stadium, which was practically on Howard U's campus,with the beloved but hapless Washington Senators!
That a "negro" team was able to utilize the very same facilities as the Senators in the still very Southern and provincial Washington, DC of the 1930's - 1950's came as a shock to me.
DC was the last NFL team to integrate pro football with Bobby Mitchell in the late 1950's; George Preston Marshall was no civil rights activist, and had to be forced to integrate his Redskins.
It is, therefore, thrilling to see how Washington, DC played a part in the eventuality of pro sports integration, realized in Jackie Robinson's signing in 1947. Snyder tells an interesting tale that all who study the sociological development of a fully integrated Major League Baseball must read!
(Now Brad....send Selig a note to bring us back our team! :}
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Format: Hardcover
Beyond a doubt this is a well documented, interesting to read, important addition to the history of black baseball in America.
Snyder recreates the era of parallel universes for black and white Americans when contact between the races was rare. All baseball fans were cheated out of seeing the best players compete because some had darker skins than others. The frustations of ballplayers who knew that they could compete but where denied the opportunity is presented against the background of a segregated America.
As a public libray director and an individual baseball book collector I heartily recommend this title.
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Format: Paperback
"Beyond the Shadow of the Senators'' is a must read for any serious student of baseball history. The author put a massive amount of research into this engaging account, of which I knew nothing even though I grew up in Washington not long after these events took place. This is an outstanding work in every regard. I have never met the author and I am not an African-American (not that anybody should care); I am just a fan of baseball and its history. If you are, too: Read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
A new book has hit the bookshelves that will be of interest to baseball fans, and to students of the history of baseball and history of black-white relations in urban America. Brad Snyder is author of Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold History of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball (2003, Contemporary Books: Chicago, 418 pp.). The book develops several themes in exacting detail (125 pages of footnotes!). First, Snyder explains why the Clark Griffith was not the first baseball club owner to hire black players...missing a huge opportunity as Washington became a black majority city in the 1950s. Clark Griffith and Sam Posey, owner of the Grays, both had a vested interest in maintaining segregated baseball. Critical income to support for his Washington Senators was provided by renting Griffith Stadium to the Homesteads (100% of concessions plus large percent of the gate receipts). Posey did not have the financial means to construct another ballpark in or near D.C., and he knew the Negro leagues would disappear if the major leagues were integrated. Second, the book follows the career of Sam Lacy, an aggressive advocate of integration in the major leagues, writing for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. Having grown-up in segregated Washington, and failing to make it as a player in the Negro Leagues, Lacy had plenty of motivation to lead the campaign to integrate the major leagues. Lacy had to live with the irony of having contributed to integration, but at the price of losing the Negro Leagues, the blame for which was not Lacy's alone, but for which he was attacked by some. Lacy is quoted as saying: "While I didn't like to attack an institution [the Negro Leagues], I certainly didn't want to support or stand by idly and see a symbol for frustration.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great, and true-to-life (i.e., "complex") story about the institution of 'Negro' League baseball and the various parties who profited and railed against it.
Key people that are introduced and brought to life are:
Buck Leonard, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson -- three of the greatest ballplayers who ever lived;
Clark Griffith -- the pioneering, penurious and controlling owner of the Washington Senators;
Sam Lacy -- the ahead-of-his-time, DC-native who tirelessly advocated for the integration of Major League Baseball; as well as
Cum(berland) Posey -- the shrewd owner of the Homestead Grays -- the dominant team of the loosely confederated Negro Leagues during the late 30's and 40's.
Tangential to this story are:
the decimation of the post 1933 Senators, mostly due to finances and an inadequate ballpark;
the relative prosperity of Washington DC during the years of the depression and WWII and the partial equality of African-American government workers that led to a vibrant culture and ability to spend on entertainment;
the move by Posey and his "partner" (many of the Negro League baseball teams were financed by numbers entreprenuers) to Washington from their Pittsburgh home and the welcome of their rental payments and gate pctgs.
Read more ›
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