Posted:  March 7, 2015

Joe Black: More than a DodgerHe was told that the color of his skin would keep him out of the big leagues, but Joe Black worked his way up through the Negro Leagues and the Cuban Winter League. He burst into the Majors in 1952 when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the face of segregation, verbal harassment, and even death threats, Joe Black rose to the top of his game; he earned National League Rookie of the Year and became the first African American pitcher to win a World Series game. With the same tenacity he showed in his baseball career, Black became the first African American vice president of a transportation corporation when he went to work for Greyhound. In this first-ever biography of Joe Black, his daughter Martha Jo Black tells the story not only of a baseball great who broke through the color line, but also of the father she knew and loved.

The story of Joe Black was a very well written book and you could tell that his daughter put a lot of thought into it by her own little story or added did bits at the end of each chapter. If you don’t know Joe Black was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers stating in 1952, that year he won the National League Rookie of the year, winning 15 games, saving fifteen games, with an ERA of 2.15, in 142 innings. He won the first game of the 52 World Series becoming the first African American pitcher to win a game in the World Series it was also a complete game. He would pitch two more times losing 2-0 and 4-2, in a seven day span he pitched three games. In 1953 the Manager of the Dodgers Dressen, wanted him to change his pitching motion and to come up with a new pitch as well. Neither of these worked and some felt that it actually hurt Joes arm. Joe having pitched in the Negro Leagues forgot what some of the old time ball players told him and that was don’t allow a coach to change the way you pitch. In 55 he was traded to the Reds and by 57 he was out of baseball. Fortunately he had gotten a scholarship to play football at Morgan state, and though he left school after his sophomore year to play baseball he continued to go back to finish his degree that he promised his mother. Because of that degree he became a teacher for 6 years and then by a chance meeting ending up becoming an executive for Greyhound bus in Phoenix. Started many community programs and programs in the company itself. He remained in baseball starting and being on the board of directors of Baseball Assistance Team. He then was hired when the Arizona Diamondbacks started in the league. There are stories of his times in Cuba and also traveling in the Negro League, and what it was like seeing those players and the stories they had. His first roommate with the Dodgers was Jackie Robinson, and how that became a lifelong friendship along with many other people. His life was more than baseball but at the same time it came back to the game. You can also tell from the book how he was part of his children’s lives and when he was older and his daughter was born fought for custody and won, which did not happen that much in the 70’s for any man let alone a black man. I found that I was more touched by his actions off the field than on and though being a fan I did not know all of the things he did. A very good book. I got this book from net galley.  I give this 4 Stars.

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LET’S WELCOME KIMBERLY DEAN AUTHOR OF:   Rad-Reader:   What made you want to tell this story?       Kimberly:   Erin first...