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Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston Paperback – September 2, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807009792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807009796
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #924,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan Colcord on November 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The publication of Shut Out occurs at a time when the Boston Red Sox have
just finished their first season of a new era. An era promising to right
every wrong of the past 101 seasons. The sad part is that in reading this
book we come away with the feeling that there is more to the antidote than
simply John Henry, new seats at Fenway, and the mere promise of final racial
equality for the team. Howard Bryant, while publicly a journalist covering
the rival New York Yankees, is also a black man who grew up in the city of
Boston during its most turbulent period for blacks- the school busing crisis
of the early 1970s. Bryant's journalistic talents shine brightly throughout
this well-written expose. He begins the story with a good deal of Boston
history entirely unrelated to baseball. He examines early 19th century
Boston when it was known to blacks as home to the abolitionist movement.
Tracing Boston's slow move away from perceived abolitionist leanings and
into political rivalries among various groups, he shows a city ripe with
prejudice. The Boston Red Sox of the early Tom Yawkey era was very much a
club. Yawkey surrounded himself with cronies who thought very much the way
he did. While never publicly speaking out against the idea of integrated
baseball, others in his organization did. From the eloquent dodging of the
question by General Manager Eddie Collins to the very public racist comments
of Manager Pinky Higgins we learn how a team who could have been the first
in baseball to integrate, became the absolute last.
Read more ›
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By A Customer on September 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Everyone in Boston knew this story for years, but until Howard Bryant decided to do the work and get it it down, it went basically untold. Top-notch reporting on a difficult subject makes this book special. It should be painful for Red Sox fans and it is, but it's also an indictment of the game - more than fifty years after Jackie Robinson baseball still has a long way to go. The truth hurts, but it shall also set you free.
His chapter on the role the media, particularly the Globe played in the story is particularly notable, as are the voices of so many of the affected Red Sox players, i.e. Earl Wilson, Pumpsie Green, Jim Rice and Ellis Burks, among others. It would have been easy to write a screed that could be easily ignored, but Bryant painstakingly pins the story to the ground, step by step. Anyone serious about baseball, fan or insider, should read this.
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Format: Hardcover
My rating of four stars is based on my interest level while author Howard Bryant deserves five stars for his in-depth effort on the subject of the Boston Red Sox and the racial problems that have cast a cloud over the storied franchise. The author relates the story of the farcical tryout of Jackie Robinson at Fenway Park along with two other blacks in 1945 with the Red Sox using the excuse they couldn't sign Robinson since he would have had to report to a minor league team of theirs located in the south where he would have had to deal with a segregated society. The same held true for Willie Mays who could have been patrolling center field for the Sox. Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey purchased the team in 1933 and surrounded himself with a trio of cronies and drinking buddies named Eddie Collins, Joe Cronin, and buffoon racist Mike "Pinky" Higgins. It is certainly true that racism was not limited to the Red Sox during the 1950's, but they were last in integrating their team with the signing of Elijah "Pumpsie" Green in 1959, and as long as the specter of Collins, Cronin, and Higgins were involved nothing was going to change. Yawkey, as owner was certainly no leader, as he entrusted his franchise to these three men and passively accepted their beliefs. Author Bryant also goes into detail on the experiences of Reggie Smith, Jim Rice, Ellis Burks, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Luis Tiant, and Mo Vaughn during their stays in Boston. Some of the book covers non-baseball racially related incidents over the years, and how the team has suffered in trying to get free agents to sign with the Red Sox. When Pumpsie Green joined the club in '59 Ted Williams sent a strong message to teammates and other bigots by warming up with Green prior to the games.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This book will not bring back memories of the Red Sox you knew as a kid growing up. I became a Red Sox fan right around the time that the Sox brought Pumpsie Green up to the big leagues and became the last team in MLB to integrate.
I had no perceptions of race and sports at the tender age of 9 and the misty memories of youth are shown a touch of reality of how the team was insulated from the integration of the sport.
While we can run around and spout about "The Curse", this book explains where the true curse lies and how the team may have had the opportunity to wave a few more pennants and maybe a World Series victory after 1918 if the right social decisions had been made.
But, the sometime Calvinistic instincts of Red Sox fans would be taken away and we wouldn't be able to wallow in our misery of having someone (the Yankees) or something ("The Curse") to blame for the drought of a World Series victory.
Buy or read this book for some real history and not for some nostalgia of a myth.
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