People are thinking and talking about baseball a lot. The Major League Baseball (MLB) season recently started and “42”; the biopic about Jackie Robinson was released in April. Commercials by Chevrolet tout the sport as being as American as apple pie. I found out that there are some baseball books worth noticing on the market. I share some details about them below.
One baseball themed book that jumped off the shelf for me was Tom Dunkel’s Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line. In this 2013 Atlantic Monthly Press (NY) book, the award winning writer shares that a Chrysler dealer named Neil Churchill signed an integrated baseball squad to play baseball in the 1930s in Bismark, North Dakota. Included in that number was high-speed pitcher Satchel Paige, as well as Quincy Troupe. The book gives Troupe’s home as St. Louis. The book even tells that some of the half-white, half-black team members declined pro contracts in the sport. A 287-page read with extensive notes; this book is well-written. My favorite part is the information about the special names that Satchel gave some of his pitches; such as “Hesitation Pitch,” and “Bat Dodger.”
Speaking of Satchel, Larry Tye wrote a book about him in 2009. The book is titled Satchel: The Life & Times of an American Legend. This 300-page book by Random House Books (NY) gives extensive information about Satchel’s beginnings in Alabama and his integration into baseball. The boundary-breaker, and icon is well-featured in this book. An appendix, notes, and a bibliography accompany this book. My favorite part is the telling of the icon’s break into the major league.
Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend by James S. Hirsh and authorized by Mays is an all-encompassing read of 566 pages. Copyrighted in 2010 by Schribner; a division of Simon & Schuster, this book gives some details about Mays’ time in the Negro League. My favorite parts are the great chapter titles and the pictures. One picture features Mays with Jackie Robinson.
Some people have heard Ralph Branca as the man who threw the pitch that resulted in Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard round the world.” This pitch allowed the New York Giants to win in 1951. A book detailing the life of this player is aptly titled A Moment In Time: An American Story of Baseball Heartbreak & Grace. The Schribner (NY) book is 210 pages in length, and was copyrighted in 2011. My favorite part is the way the writers Ralph Branca and David Ritz balance the good and the bad of Branca’s life – the heartbreak and the grace.
These books made me glad to call baseball my favorite sport to watch live. I have always loved baseball. My late sister, Janice Reed, was a baseball fanatic and played softball for her IBM team for many years. A couple of years ago, I lived in Dallas and had the chance to go to a live baseball game at Ranger’s stadium. I loved the interaction; doing the wave, singing songs and chanting. Plus, the game is easy to follow. I love baseball, and now; I also love baseball books – especially the ones mentioned in this article.
Also by Shirley
Sharon Robinson: Jackie Robinson’s Daughter
“42” Jackie Robinson’s Biopic