Only the Ball Was White

I found myself looking at this book at the library for many years but just never pulled the trigger to take it home and immerse myself in it. After watching the movie ’42’ and diving into the Strat-O-Matic Negro League All Star card set, I felt I needed to know more about the men that made up the card set.

The book starts off pre-1900 and talks of players I had never heard of in my life. Not the greatest start but I was determined to stick with it. After the turn of the century, the names started becoming more familiar and the stories mesmerizing. Names like Rube Foster, Smokey Joe Williams, Oscar Charleston, Pop Lloyd and the list goes on and on. I couldn’t put the book down and found myself consuming the roughly 400 pages in a few days.

The book covers everything from the starting of numerous Negro Leagues and the men whom put them together, to brief biographies of some of the more well known stars of the NL. The book also has some stats and game recaps but is not what I consider to be Encyclopedic in that way.

The book was written by Robert W. Peterson, who grew up in Pennsylvania and use to watch a lot of the Negro Barnstorming teams that would go through the area and claims to have seen the longest home run ever hit in Warren, PA (Josh Gibson hit it!).

I plan on reading the book again, slower this time hoping to catch more pieces of information that might have escaped my mind(I am getting older don’t you know). If you plan on diving into the SOM NL All Star set, this is the book you want to read first to immerse yourself with these players.

Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams