The Best Man Plays

Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901–2002

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About the Book

It has been said that sport is the great leveler, that on the playing field everyone is of equal status. Through the years, however, few institutions have better embodied America’s ideals and prejudices than baseball. Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers marked the first time an African American participated in a major league contest in the 20th century, and his abilities verified what many had believed all along—that African Americans could compete with white players and excel.
The experiences and important contributions of six African American baseball players from the 1900s to the present day are presented in this work. The players are Andrew “Rube” Foster, perhaps the most important figure in black baseball during the first quarter of the 20th century; Satchel Paige, whose talent quickly became known in organized baseball and was built into a near mythical figure by an enchanted press; Larry Doby, who took the field with the Cleveland Indians three months after Jackie Robinson appeared with the Dodgers; Curt Flood, remembered less for the exceptional player he was than for challenging baseball’s reserve clause; Dave Parker, the first black player to make a million dollars a year but also a prominent witness to the Pittsburgh drug trial; and Barry Bonds, known for his clashes with fans and the media but most recently revered for his MVP season in 2002 and record-breaking 73 home runs in 2001.

About the Author(s)

Andrew O’Toole has written cover stories for Pittsburgh History Magazine and Elysian Fields Quarterly. His article “Clemente’s First Spring” won the 1998 Macmillan–SABR Baseball Research Award. He lives in Maineville, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Andrew O’Toole
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 181
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1494-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1261-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface: The Promised Land      1

1 Now Is the Time: Rube Foster      7

2 Satch the Sage: Satchel Paige      25

3 In the Shadow of No Man: Larry Doby      54

4 Courage of Conviction: Curt Flood      74

5 David the Star: Dave Parker      100

6 Thank You, But You Missed the Show: Barry Bonds      128

7 We Need to Do Better      149

Notes      153

Bibliography      163

Index      167

Book Reviews & Awards

“excellent…gives voice to passions and frustrations…more than a book on blacks in baseball…shows the mental and emotional toll that racism took…essential”—Choice.