Lester: The baseball book that changed my life

From SABR member Larry Lester at The National Pastime Museum on October 28, 2015:

I have been prompted by the question, “What has been the most influential baseball book in your life?” There have been so many, including Ed Linn’s Veeck as in Wreck, Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer, and Lawrence Ritter’s The Glory of Our Times. However, these classics will never surpass Robert Peterson’s Only the Ball Was White, published in May of 1970. The seismic impact of his book shook the baseball world like the archaeological discovery of the Lucy fossil in 1974. Its aftershocks lifted black baseball from the abyss with untold stories and unheard voices.

As a youth, I lived on Brooklyn Avenue, just a few blocks south of Municipal Stadium, home of the mostly white Kansas City Athletics. In my confined universe of living in an all-black neighborhood, attending an all-black church, and going to an all-black school, my playground begged the question, “Where are all the black ballplayers?” To satisfy my curiosity, the nearby griots would talk about the players from Negro League teams, such as the Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago American Giants, and St. Louis Stars.

They would tell me ghostly stories about Cool Papa Bell, who was soooo fast . . . well, you know the story, and the redonkulous home runs hit by a burly catcher named Josh, and the surreptitiousness of a high-leg-kicking, big-footed pitcher named Satchel, who lived nearby. Yeah, right!

And ghosts they were. Gentlemen like Bell, Gibson, and Paige were not in any books I found. During my high school years, mine eyes discovered Satchel Paige’s autobiography with David Lipman, Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/mine-eyes-have-seen-glory-only-ball-was-white-robert-peterson

Originally published: October 28, 2015. Last Updated: October 28, 2015.