When Jackie Robinson, stepped onto Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947 in the uniform of then National League Brooklyn Dodgers, the segregation of Major League Baseball came to an end. 11 weeks later, on July 5, 1947, Larry Doby stepped to the plate at Comiskey Park as a pinch hitting member of the American League Cleveland Indians and broke the color barrier in that league. Robinson became a legend. But according to Douglas Branson, Larry Doby became a forgotten footnote that deserves greater recognition.
In his book, Greatness In the Shadows: Larry Doby and the Integration of the American League (University of Nebraska Press, 2016) Branson seeks to make a case that Doby deserves greater recognition for his award winning play and his pioneering effort to break the color barrier in the American League. In doing so, he takes the reader on a journey of numerous twists and turns as he discusses Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn President and General Manager, Bill Veeck, the Cleveland Indians’ owner, Robinson, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Satchel Paige in the context of baseball integration and public acclaim in the late 1940’s and through the 1950’s. The result is a catalog of statistical comparisons and player anecdotes and the author’s assessments of those anecdotes and stats with a goal to prove that Doby was the equal of them all.
I think that Branson makes his point but this reviewer was soon lost in the turning narrative, as was the main subject of the book, Doby. The result for me was a disappointing read.
My Goodreads rating, because of the narrative style that detracted from the book, is 3 Stars.
Note: I received a galley copy of this book from Net Galley via the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.