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A Complete History of the Negro Leagues 1884 to 1955 Hardcover – June, 1995
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In their heyday, the Negro Leagues were an important part of black America, with games between black teams drawing as many as 40,000 fans in some large cities, and the players themselves as celebrated as musicians like Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington. Mark Ribowsky's concise history masterfully evokes these long-gone days with portraits of such Hall of Fame players as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell. The story is bittersweet--though various incarnations of the Negro Leagues survived well into the 1950s, the end of the leagues was sealed when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson in 1945.
From Publishers Weekly
Baseball apartheid existed until Jackie Robinson broke that barrier in 1947. Ironically, with the integration of major league baseball, the death knell was rung for "blackball." In this blunt look at the Negro leagues, Ribowsky (Don't Look Back) unsentimentally chronicles what he calls the penal colony of American baseball. Frozen out of the major as well as the minor leagues in the late 19th century, blacks were forced to form their own leagues. These leagues, which became "a black social requisite," produced some of the greatest players ever: the first genuine "blackball" star, Andrew "Rube" Foster, whose fastball and business instincts were always on target; the legendary Satchel Paige, "blackball's first major cult hero"; Josh Gibson, blackball's Babe Ruth; and a kid with a sweet swing who went by the sobriquet "Pork Chops"-Henry Aaron. Ribowsky pays special attention to the business of black baseball for its ingenious and often inspired financial manipulation and chides major league baseball about the fact that there are no black executives in the Hall of Fame. Ribowsky also looks at the hypocrisy of the white baseball hierarchy, who would not employ black players but who, like the New York Yankees, would rent out their stadiums to blacks at more than $100,000 a year. A no-nonsense look at a time when only the ball was white. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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It's not like the Negro leagues kept fantastic archives or video, so this book was really good at getting to know just some of the history. While it could have gone more in-depth, I was looking for an easy read, and not an encyclopedia or anthology of every single pitch.
This book was my first literary introduction to "Blackball", and I loved it and appreciated their struggle. Mind you, It only whets the appetite, so I have been happily looking for more info ever since.
For a few dollars, you could do much worse. If you are really into Negro Leagues, this won't be your only book.
I found this was confirmed by official MLB historian John Thorn at his blog (can't post a URL here but Google it, you'll find it). I haven't gone line by line through the book, but who ever heard of a book that was accurately and faithfully researched except for a single made-up line? There are inevitably going to be many others as is always the pattern with journalistic frauds such as this author. Very disappointed.
This book is a nice introduction to the history of the negro leagues. In fact, if you have the opportunity, I recommend it.