I received a call recently from Bryan Steverson asking if I wanted to take a look at his latest book, Amazing Baseball Heroes, Inspirational Negro League Stories. Anytime I can read something new and interesting, I'm happy to. A few days later, Steverson's 248-page hardcover book was in the mailbox.
According to Steverson, "These are stories of heroes who overcame not only racial injustice, but also biases based upon age, gender, physical size, injury, ethnicity, lack off educational opportunities, poverty, etc. They have left us an inspiring legacy, and in many ways, they serve as role models for all of us today."
The book profiles 20 Negro League players, including Hank Aaron, Cool Papa Bell, Ray Dandridge, Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, Monte Irvin, Judy Johnson, Bill Greason, Buck Leonard and Minnie Minoso.
The book isn't so much about rehashing their careers and how good they were on the diamond – though that information is not ignored either – it provides a basis on how they got started and the obstacles they overcame to get on the main stage.
The book covers some of the often-told stories of Negro league players – and how some of those stories are a little exaggerated. For instance, the Cool Papa Bell story about him getting in bed before the light went out after hitting the switch is slightly off. Satchel Paige didn't know there was a delay from when you hit the switch and when the lights actually turned off. Bell did, the bet was on and Paige couldn't believe his eyes. The legend was born.
How did Paige hunt squirrels? Well, by throwing rocks at them, of course. A scout witnessed this and imagined what he could do throwing a baseball!
These stories and many more are covered, along with information regarding what these players did after baseball. It's a delightful collection of stories and memories of players who didn't get the Major League Baseball spotlight, but were often just as good if not better than those players. Many would join them on the MLB fields, but not before enduring injustices many of us cannot imagine.
This is a nice quick read and once you get into one story, you'll want to continue to the next. There are some great photos throughout of the players, including the author with some of the players.
Those interested in purchasing the book for $29.95 can call Steverson at (865) 983-3985 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.