Thursday, April 7, 2011
Brushing Back Jim Crow
I've been working hard on my paper/presentation for the Cooperstown Symposium. My talk is on the integration of the minor leagues and there is already a seminal work on that topic in the baseball literature. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't reinventing the wheel with my work and so read this book. Fortunately, my objectives differ from those of Adelson's work. Bruce Adelson's Brushing Back Jim Crow is a really well done scholarly work on minor league integration. Adelson progresses chronologically and cites some important moments in integration. He relies a lot on interviews and I honestly think he spends more time discussing non-baseball civil rights issues.
I'm torn on how I feel about his approach. On the one hand, it's important to know what was going on in society in general during this time, particularly in the South. But then again, this is a baseball book and I would have liked to have learned more than just anecdotes from a handful of players. The anecdotes were interesting and often moving but it often felt like two separate books were going on and they weren't joined real well.
I'm nitpicking a bit. It's a great book and very informative. I doubt my contribution will be as encompassing (I do expect to vastly increase the amount of available information). Part of the reason I expect to increase the amount of information is because Adelson keeps his secret. No footnotes or endnotes which is extremely irritating. You don't know when the interviews he cites take place. You sometimes don't know what issues of what newspaper he uses. The book also lacks an index which is truly a pain. As someone doing research on the subject, you really hope that the premier work on the topic would give you something concrete. Not the case.
Definitely a good read for all you baseball fans out there and an easy, affordable acquisition for those of you who collect.
Training Update: Rowed for almost a half hour at marathon pace.
Tim Collins Update: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the only decent writer on there (not exactly true, Mixed Martial Arts writer Kevin Iole writes well, too), did a really nice piece on Collins today.