In July 1947, not even three months after Jackie Robinson debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers, snapping the color line that had segregated Major League Baseball, Larry Doby would follow in his footsteps on the Cleveland Indians. Though Doby, as the second Black player in the majors, would struggle during his first summer in Cleveland, his subsequent turnaround in 1948 from benchwarmer to superstar sparked one of the wildest and most meaningful seasons in baseball history.
In intimate, absorbing detail, Luke Epplin’s Our Team traces the story of the integration of the Cleveland Indians and their quest for a World Series title through four key participants: Bill Veeck, an eccentric and visionary owner adept at exploding fireworks on and off the field; Larry Doby, a soft-spoken, hard-hitting pioneer whose major-league breakthrough shattered stereotypes that so much of white America held about Black ballplayers; Bob Feller, a pitching prodigy from the Iowa cornfields who set the template for the athlete as businessman; and Satchel Paige, a legendary pitcher from the Negro Leagues whose belated entry into the majors whipped baseball fans across the country into a frenzy.
Together, as the backbone of a team that epitomized the postwar American spirit in all its hopes and contradictions, these four men would captivate the nation by storming to the World Series–all the while rewriting the rules of what was possible in sports.
The Eastern Professional Basketball League (1946-78) was fast and physical, often played in tiny, smoke-filled gyms across the northeast and featuring the best players who just couldn’t make the NBA—many because of unofficial quotas on Black players, some because of scandals, and others because they weren’t quite good enough in the years when the NBA had less than 100 players.
In Boxed out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League, Syl Sobel and Jay Rosenstein tell the fascinating story of a league that was a pro basketball institution for over 30 years, showcasing top players from around the country. During the early years of professional basketball, the Eastern League was the next-best professional league in the world after the NBA. It was home to big-name players such as Sherman White, Jack Molinas, and Bill Spivey, who were implicated in college gambling scandals in the 1950s and were barred from the NBA, and top Black players such as Hal “King” Lear, Julius McCoy, and Wally Choice, who could not make the NBA into the early 1960s due to unwritten team quotas on African-American players.
Featuring interviews with some 40 former Eastern League coaches, referees, fans, and players—including Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim, former Temple University coach John Chaney, former Detroit Pistons player and coach Ray Scott, former NBA coach and ESPN analyst Hubie Brown, and former NBA player and coach Bob Weiss—this book provides an intimate, first-hand account of small-town professional basketball at its best.
Shake and Bake is the story of Archie Clark, one of the top playmaking guards in the 1970s pre-merger NBA. While not one of the game’s most recognized superstars, Clark was a seminal player in NBA history who staggered defenders with the game’s greatest crossover dribble (“shake and bake”) and is credited by his peers as the originator of today’s popular step-back move.
Signed as the Lakers third-round draft pick in 1966, Clark worked his way into the starting lineup in his rookie year. But Clark was more than a guaranteed double-double whenever he stepped on the floor. He was a deep-thinking trailblazer for players’ rights. Clark often challenged coaches and owners on principle, much to the detriment of his career and NBA legacy, signing on as a named litigant in the seminal Robertson v. NBA antitrust case that smashed the player reserve system and jump-started the modern NBA.
So lace up your high-top Chuck Taylors, squeeze into a pair of short shorts, and shake and bake back in time to the days of Wilt, Russell, Oscar, Jerry, Elgin, Hondo—and Archie.
Burke was the first openly gay player in MLB and invented the high-five.
On October 2nd, 1977, Glenn Burke, outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, made history without even swinging a bat. When his teammate Dusty Baker hit a historic home run, Glenn enthusiastically congratulated him with the first ever high five.
But Glenn also made history in another way–he was the first openly gay MLB player. While he did not come out publicly until after his playing days were over, Glenn’s sexuality was known to his teammates, family, and friends. His MLB career would be cut short after only three years, but his legacy and impact on the athletic and LGBTQIA+ community would resonate for years to come.
New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss tells the story of Glenn Burke: from his childhood growing up in Oakland, his journey to the MLB and the World Series, the joy in discovering who he really was, to more difficult times: facing injury, addiction, and the AIDS epidemic.
Packed with black-and-white photographs and thoroughly researched, never-before-seen details about Glenn’s life, Singled Out is the fascinating story of a trailblazer in sports–and the history and culture that shaped the world around him.
In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain.
Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, many established Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. Kabuki performances drew hundreds of spectators—yet there was little hope.
That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp’s high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines—including some of the Eagles. As the team’s second season kicked off, the young men faced a choice to either join the Army or resist the draft. Teammates were divided, and some were jailed for their decisions.
Bradford Pearson’s The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration and Resistance in World War II America (Atria, 2021) honors the resilience of extraordinary heroes and the power of sports in a sweeping and inspirational portrait of one of the darkest moments in American history.
America and Canada both saw historic sports milestones in 1993. While the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bulls reigned supreme, the Toronto Blue Jays won a second consecutive World Series on a walk-off homer, and the Montreal Canadiens emerged as the last Canadian team to win a Stanley Cup. While stars like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Joe Montana overcame physical and emotional challenges to make history, teams were performing unprecedented feats, from the Buffalo Bills’ unrivaled comeback on Wild Card Weekend to the Baltimore Orioles’ unveiling of their transformative ballpark design during All-Star Week.
Drawing on original interviews with dozens of former players and coaches, David Ostrowsky’s Pro Sports in 1993: A Signature Season in Football, Basketball, Hockey and Baseball (McFarland, 2020) revisits an exceptional sports year for fans across North America, with memorable stories involving some of the most iconic sports figures of the 1990s.