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Baseball historian to sign new book Aug. 9

Jul. 30, 2014, 9:57 AM

Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt will welcome Phil Dixon, one of America’s foremost experts on baseball history, for a very special signing and discussion of his latest book, 1938, on Saturday, Aug. 9, beginning at 7 p.m.

The summer of 1938 was pivotal for baseball and American history. That year, John Jordon “Buck” O’Neil was a rookie first baseman playing his debut season in the Negro American League. It had taken five years and five different teams before the Kansas City Monarchs finally signed O’Neil to a contract. Before he could get his starting assignment, however, O’Neil had to dethrone one of the Negro league’s hardest-hitting first basemen, Eldridge Mayweather.

The year 1938 was a time when African American Hall of Fame-worthy players worth millions could be purchased for pennies on the dollar. Times were hard, and the baseball profession was tough. The Kansas City Monarchs were a blend of youth and maturity and one of the best teams in the Negro league. But oddly, in spite of winning records against every team in the Negro American League, Kansas City failed to win the first- or second-half pennant.

In Dixon’s book, for the first time O’Neil, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe and James “Gabby” Kemp are united to speak about this celebrated season. With interviews from Monarchs players Willard “Sonny” Brown, Newt Allen, Byron “Mex” Johnson and many others, readers are taken on a road trip around America. Along the way, readers – just as the team did in 1938 – encounter the segregation and racism that were inherent to the Negro Baseball leagues at their peak.

Dixon has authored several books on the Negro Baseball leagues. He was awarded the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992.

Free parking for the event will be available in the 2525 Garage directly behind the bookstore.

Contact: John Lasiter, (615) 414-4870