Southern League

Southern League

A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South's Most Compelling Pennant Race

Book - 2013
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Grand Central Pub
"Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings in Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation."

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Anybody who is familiar with the Civil Rights movement knows that 1964 was a pivotal year. And in Birmingham, Alabama - perhaps the epicenter of racial conflict - the Barons amazingly started their season with an integrated team.

Johnny "Blue Moon" Odom, a talented pitcher and Tommie Reynolds, an outfielder - both young black ballplayers with dreams of playing someday in the big leagues, along with Bert Campaneris, a dark-skinned shortstop from Cuba, all found themselves in this simmering cauldron of a minor league town, all playing for Heywood Sullivan, a white former major leaguer who grew up just down the road in Dothan, Alabama.

Colton traces the entire season, writing about the extraordinary relationships among these players with Sullivan, and Colton tells their story by capturing the essence of Birmingham and its citizens during this tumultuous year. (The infamous Bull Connor, for example, when not ordering blacks to be blasted by powerful water hoses, is a fervent follower of the Barons and served as a long-time broadcaster of their games.)

By all accounts, the racial jeers and taunts that rained down upon these Birmingham players were much worse than anything that Jackie Robinson ever endured.

More than a story about baseball, this is a true accounting of life in a different time and clearly a different place. Seventeen years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color line in the major leagues, Birmingham was exploding in race riots....and now, they were going to have their very first integrated sports team. This is a story that has never been told.

Baker & Taylor
Describes the 1964 season of the minor league Birmingham Barons, whose African-American and Cuban players braved the racial taunts and jeers from fans while they bonded with their teammates at the crossroads of the Civil Rights movement.

& Taylor

Describes the 1964 season of the Birmingham Barons, a minor league baseball team, whose integrated players, including African-Americans and Cubans, braved the racial taunts and jeers from fans while they bonded with their teammates at the crossroads of the Civil Rights movement.

Publisher: New York : Grand Central Pub., c2013
ISBN: 9781455511884
Branch Call Number: 796.35 COL 2013
Characteristics: 321 pages cm


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May 02, 2019

Just a very good book.
Lots of impressive people working to improve racial situation .
The manager and team owner were inspiring.

Jun 21, 2013

after reading the book southern league baseball, I discovered that my hometown of jonesboro,ark. was featured in the book. I played baseball as a kid in the town of paragould against other little league teams.
teaching art in jonesboro, I would take my 1st grade students to arkansas state university's art dept.

After finishing high school in jonesboro, I joined the Navy to play baseball because African-American 's could not attend arkansas univ. a delighful book. baseball was my first love. Mertiss(jay)Thompson


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