Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend

Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend

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by John Klima
     
 

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The baseball legend that might never have been

"John Klima discovers a terrific story of overcoming all the odds to achieve your dreams. The dreamer was a dream player—Willie Mays. I loved this story and this book."
Torii Hunter, Gold Glove Award Winner and All-Star Center fielder, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

"I was a Willie Mays

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Overview

The baseball legend that might never have been

"John Klima discovers a terrific story of overcoming all the odds to achieve your dreams. The dreamer was a dream player—Willie Mays. I loved this story and this book."
Torii Hunter, Gold Glove Award Winner and All-Star Center fielder, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

"I was a Willie Mays fan. When he was on the field, nobody could get at him. You couldn't take your eyes off him. He was like a kid playing out in the street. He did everything with flair. John has done some digging. It's hard to find those interesting stories."
Joe Torre, New York Times bestselling author of The Yankee Years and manager, Los Angeles Dodgers

"John Klima has a delightful way of digging deep into a forgotten pocket of sports history and coming out with an unforgettable story. He does all lovers of Willie Mays and of baseball a great service with this fine book. I really, really enjoyed it. Well done!"
David Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author of Clemente and Rome 1960

"Willie Mays was a dazzling ballplayer, but the story of his early career is much bigger than baseball. In Willie's Boys, John Klima puts us in the front row for one of the most fascinating periods in the game's history, as the Negro Leagues died and the Major Leagues struggled with integration. Mays is the perfect protagonist. The drama is real, the stakes are high, and Klima captures it with shimmering prose and hard-nosed reporting. I loved this book."
Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season

"In Willie's Boys John Klima's studious research and careful writing create a dramatic, important, and human story out of a line of agate—Willie Mays's rookie year with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. As Mays himself told Klima, 'You know more about this than I do.' So will the close reader of this fine book."
Glenn Stout, author and Series Editor of The Best American Sports Writing

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Willie's Boys adds to baseball lore by recounting Willie Mays's service with the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, which led to the Black Barons' participation in black baseball's final World Series. Baseball writer Klima (Pitched Battle: 35 of Baseball's Greatest Duels from the Mound) repeatedly delivers quotes from Black Barons, their adversaries, scouts, and other baseball figures regarding Mays's preternatural skills, particularly in the field and on the base paths. The hitting prowess, for both average and distance, came a bit later, but the raw talent and the drive were immediately present. Mays's personality, somewhat surprisingly, does not come through as clearly, unlike that of the other star of Klima's story, Willie's teammate, mentor, and first professional manager, Piper Davis. Even more than Mays's story, those of Davis and players such as the great third baseman Ray Dandridge demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of black baseball, along with the hurdles even brilliant players had to overcome to enter organized baseball. Klima refutes long-standing notions regarding the supposed refusal of teams like the Yankees and Red Sox to sign black players, as both sought to sign Mays. VERDICT Recommended for all interested readers.—Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico
From the Publisher

* Willie's Boys adds to baseball lore by recounting Willie Mays's service with the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, which led to the Black Barons' participation in black baseball's final World Series. Baseball writer Klima (Pitched Battle: 35 of Baseball's Greatest Duels from the Mound) repeatedly delivers quotes from Black Barons, their adversaries, scouts, and other baseball figures regarding Mays's preternatural skills, particularly in the field and on the base paths. The hitting prowess, for both average and distance, came a bit later, but the raw talent and the drive were immediately present. Mays's personality, somewhat surprisingly, does not come through as clearly, unlike that of the other star of Klima's story, Willie's teammate, mentor, and first professional manager, Piper Davis. Even more than Mays's story, those of Davis and players such as the great third baseman Ray Dandridge demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of black baseball, along with the hurdles even brilliant players had to overcome to enter organized baseball. Klima refutes long-standing notions regarding the supposed refusal of teams like the Yankees and Red Sox to sign black players, as both sought to sign Mays. Verdict Recommended for all interested readers.
—Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico (Library Journal, December 2009)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470485224
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
07/28/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

John Klima, an award-winning baseball writer, has written for the New York Times, Yahoo! Sports, and Los Angeles Times. His story "Deal of the Century" was selected by David Maraniss to be included in the 2007 edition of Best American Sports Writing. In 2007, he was honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors for column writing. He is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and the Society for American Baseball Research. Visit his Web sites at klimaink.com. and baseballbeginnings.com.

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Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! It is well researched, but it is not bogged down and boring. The author did a wonderful job of making sure that he did his homework, but put it all in a narrative form, so that it reads easily, quickly and enjoyable. You really will feel like you are on the bus with Willie Mays and his team, through the South in the 1940s, and the discrimination and difficulties that accompanied it. You learn the rich language that the men of the Negro Leagues used and created. You will understand aspects of what it was like to live in that era. You will also learn never before known parts of Willie Mays's career, and how he actually got to the New York Giants instead of the numerous other teams that knew about him. You get to know the wonderful cast of characters who helped and taught Willie Mays when he was so young. (Piper Davis, Willie's player-manager is truly a great character!) You will see rivalries and discrimination and triumph over them. Willie's Boys offers great insight into the humble beginnings of a true baseball great. So, if you like and are interested in baseball, Willie Mays, history, culture, orstories of struggle and discrimination, this is the book for you. It really does have something for almost everyone. I can not recommend this book more highly!