This impressively comprehensive book, part of the publisher's African American Achievers series, recounts the history of black professional baseball, from the 19th century when Moses Fleetwood Walker became the first African American major leaguer to the 1960s and the demise of the Negro leagues. These leagues were formed after professional baseball excluded African Americans from the national pastime in the 1880s. The Negro leagues came into their heyday years later, in the 1930s, when players like Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard, known as "the black Lou Gehrig" and Josh Gibson, "the black Babe Ruth" made names for themselves as three of the finest players in baseball history, black or white. This informative title, by the author of the Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, tells the story of African Americans playing and excelling in segregated baseball until Jackie Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers' debut in 1947 broke the major league color line and signaled the end of the Negro leagues. The author's work should be at the top of every school and library's purchasing list as a noteworthy nonfiction selection.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Spanning the years 1868 to 1960, this title takes a look at blacks in professional baseball in general and at the Negro Leagues in particular. While the material is accurate and the book is attractively designed, the sheer number of players and teams discussed may overwhelm readers. Riley introduces a lot of names, but offers little substantive detail or real insight. Black-and-white photographs are liberally sprinkled throughout the seven chapters. While credits are cited for them, the text itself is not documented. The list for further reading includes predominantly adult titles. While not fatally flawed, this effort is not a first choice. Michael Cooper's Playing America's Game (Dutton, 1993), Robert Gardner and Dennis Shortelle's Forgotten Players (Walker, 1993), and Patricia and Fredrick McKissack's Black Diamond (Scholastic, 1994) all provide similar information in a more reader-friendly format.Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI