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John "Buck" O'Neil: The Rookie, The Man, The Legacy 1938 Paperback – April 24, 2009
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For the most part,the book often reads like an undergraduate research paper. Very choppy. Formulaic. Redundancy often abounds. The text frequently becomes a pretty dry recitation of facts. Think media guide at times.
The portions which relate the recollections of Negro League players are excellent such as O'Neil's description of hoboing (hopping freight trains) across the country in the early 1930s. The prejudice of the times was appalling and unconscionable. One feels Dixon had a great deal of excellent material from interviews with African American players that just didn't make it to the pages. Dixon's exhaustive research is impressive.
Dixon rightfully pulls no punches at American segregation of the times. A powerful poignant capturing of the horrible reality of the not too distant past, Phil Dixon compares the recorded lynching victim totals to win totals of period's most dominant African American team. The lynching totals outnumbered baseball wins during a significant period in the early twentieth century. The total of 3,082 African American recorded lynchings through 1936 is staggering. Try barn storming the States as a black ball player during those times.
However, Dixon sometimes is perhaps seeing prejudicial intent where none was necessarily intended, e.g. suggesting the fictionalized Joe Palooka cartoon character was white society's response or compensation to Joe Louis' successful run as heavy weight champ during the 30s prohibiting proper recognition. One problem Palooka was created around 1921 and just wasn't syndicated until 1930.Read more ›