Baseball When It Was Black and White

baseball and glove

"Sports do not build character. They reveal it." – Haywood Hale Broun

Time is running out to see Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience at the Lonestar College --Cy-Fair Branch Library in Cypress. But even if you miss the exhibit, here’s a triple play of excellent books from the library’s collection that eloquently reveal the character of the men and women who played in the Negro leagues.

We are the ship     We are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball / words and paintings by Kadir Nelson ; foreword by Hank Aaron
Using the voice of an unnamed player Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its end in 1960. In his oil paintings he poses every player’s portrait as if the viewer is looking up at an exquisitely colored monumental statue of the man.

Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball      Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball / Scott Simon
A short history and reflection on the heroic stand against hatred that a naturally combinative all around athlete took to reintegrate the game is thoughtfully presented by Simon, along with his reflections of what heroism means. 

A strong right arm     A Strong Right Arm: the Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson / Michelle Y. Green ; introduction by Mamie Johnson
Unlike the unnamed narrator of We Are the Ship, Green has captured Mamie Johnson’s voice as she tells her story from being a girl in South Carolina playing with a ball made from tape wrapped around a rock to starting pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns. The writing is as exciting as the pitch by pitch call of an announcer broadcasting a close game.