cover image A Complete History of the Negro Leagues, 1884 to 1955

A Complete History of the Negro Leagues, 1884 to 1955

Mark Ribowsky / Author Carol Publishing Corporation $24.95 (33

Baseball apartheid existed until Jackie Robinson broke that barrier in 1947. Ironically, with the integration of major league baseball, the death knell was rung for ``blackball.'' In this blunt look at the Negro leagues, Ribowsky (Don't Look Back) unsentimentally chronicles what he calls the penal colony of American baseball. Frozen out of the major as well as the minor leagues in the late 19th century, blacks were forced to form their own leagues. These leagues, which became ``a black social requisite,'' produced some of the greatest players ever: the first genuine ``blackball'' star, Andrew ``Rube'' Foster, whose fastball and business instincts were always on target; the legendary Satchel Paige, ``blackball's first major cult hero''; Josh Gibson, blackball's Babe Ruth; and a kid with a sweet swing who went by the sobriquet ``Pork Chops''-Henry Aaron. Ribowsky pays special attention to the business of black baseball for its ingenious and often inspired financial manipulation and chides major league baseball about the fact that there are no black executives in the Hall of Fame. Ribowsky also looks at the hypocrisy of the white baseball hierarchy, who would not employ black players but who, like the New York Yankees, would rent out their stadiums to blacks at more than $100,000 a year. A no-nonsense look at a time when only the ball was white. Photos not seen by PW. (June)