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From the Publisher
"This excellent and readable book tells the stories of 20 African-American baseball players, both old-timers excluded from the major leagues by segregation….and relatively newer players such as Ernie Banks, Bob, Gibson, and Hank Aaron. The book works at two levels--first, as an account of what it meant to be an African-American baseball player in the United States, and second, as a great read about very good players….There are pictures throughout, and an index, both of which add to the book's quality….This book is both educational and enjoyable, and is highly recommended."
"Chicago Tribune sportswriter Freedman explains his arrangement of the 20 biographies found here as neither chronological nor alphabetical, but laid out in a manner that best illustrates the African American baseball experience through the Negro Leagues and the barrier-breaking period in the major leagues. The lives and careers of players including Buck O'Neil, Cool Papa Bell, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are offered in entries averaging eight pages each, and accompanied by a few B&W photographs. A timeline of births, deaths, and major events is provided, along with suggestions for further reading."
Reference & Research Book News
"Crafting a readable and informative history, Freedman reminds readers of the struggles of Hank Aaron and his brethren. The articles are arranged neither alpahbetically nor strictly chronologically. Instead, the order of subject coverage is chosen to best weave individual stories into a cohesive account of African Americans in baseball in the 20th century. Each lengthy selection provides details of the players' personal and professional lives as well as the abuses they suffered. Since Freedman was able to interview a few of the players, such as Buck O'Neil and Minnie Minoso, the anecdotes and reminiscences make these men seem real, and the racism they encountered that much more painful."
School Library Journal
"Together, these players reflect nearly ninety years of baseball history. Freedman uses their careers to illuminate changes in both baseball and American society. His detailed accounts describe the early life, professional career and later efforts of each player. The author uses interviews, biographies, and game reports to demonstrate the character and achievements of each man. The narratives are heavily sprinkled with contemporary accounts and anecdotes, but are fully documented. As stories of success, tragedy, pain, perserverance, sports and history, this collection of biographies will prove entertaining and informative reading in both public and academic libraries."
Lawrence Looks at Books
"Freedman's approach, which includes plenty of quotations and fascinating anecdotes, such as Don Newcombe's daring to get into a public argument with a white man during spring training in Florida, makes the book both an excellent source and a compelling sports history."
American Reference Books Annual
"The careers of 20 athletes, inlcuding Ray Campanella, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, are highlighted with reference to their contributions to the Negro Leagues and/or major league baseball mid-century, when their impact on the sport was most dramatic. The author's anecdotal style is especially affecting in describing his subjects, their struggles with racism, and their travails."