1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever

The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever Perhaps no single baseball season has so profoundly changed the game forever In that year the same in which the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the case of Brown vs Board of Education tha

  • Title: 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever
  • Author: Bill Madden
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 387
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever

    1954 Perhaps no single baseball season has so profoundly changed the game forever In that year the same in which the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in the case of Brown vs Board of Education, that segregation of the races be outlawed in America s public schools Larry Doby s Indians won an American League record 111 games, dethroned the five straight World Series ch1954 Perhaps no single baseball season has so profoundly changed the game forever In that year the same in which the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in the case of Brown vs Board of Education, that segregation of the races be outlawed in America s public schools Larry Doby s Indians won an American League record 111 games, dethroned the five straight World Series champion Yankees, and went on to play Willie Mays s Giants in the first World Series that featured players of color on both teams Seven years after Jackie Robinson had broken the baseball color line, 1954 was a triumphant watershed season for black players and, in a larger sense, for baseball and the country as a whole While Doby was the dominant player in the American League, Mays emerged as the preeminent player in the National League, with a flair and boyish innocence that all fans, black and white, quickly came to embrace Mays was almost instantly beloved in 1954, much of that due to how seemingly easy it was for him to live up to the effusive buildup from his Giants manager, Leo Durocher, a man widely known for his ferocious nice guys finish last attitude Award winning, New York Times bestselling author Bill Madden delivers the first major book to fully examine the 1954 baseball season, drawn largely from exclusive recent interviews with the major players themselves, including Mays and Doby as well as New York baseball legends from that era Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford of the Yankees, Monte Irvin of the Giants, and Carl Erskine of the Dodgers 1954 transports readers across the baseball landscape of the time from the spring training camps in Florida and Arizona to baseball cities including New York, Balti, Chicago, and Cleveland as future superstars such as Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and others entered the leagues and continued to integrate the sport Weaving together the narrative of one of baseball s greatest seasons with the racially charged events of that year, 1954 demonstrates how our national pastime with the notable exception of the Yankees, who represented white supremacy in the game was actually ahead of the curve in terms of the acceptance of black Americans, while the nation at large continued to struggle with tolerance.

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    One thought on “1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever

    1. Rick

      Bill Madden doesn't really complete his premise that 1954 was a radical year in the development of baseball. Rather than being a radical year of change akin to 1947 or even 1969, 1954 is a year with fairly standard pennant races and a brief interruption in the Yankees juggernaut of the late 40s to late 50s. Madden claims that this is the year that the first wave of true African American stars emerged and I can give him that point but he focuses almost exclusively on the New York Giants and to a [...]

    2. Spiros

      A nice recap of the '54 season, purporting to show the expanding influence of players transitioning from the Negro Leagues into the Major Leagues; somewhere along the line, that theme got lost in what becomes just a pedestrian overview of an interesting, but not a watershed, season. Madden demonstrates a fondness for unmoored clauses and prepositional phrases which can be, well, maddening.

    3. Susan Lulgjuraj

      Bill Madden’s 1954 intrigued me based on the tag on front of the book: “The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever.”Yep, immediately hooked. It was still a year away from Elston Howard making his Yankees debut – as the Yankees were one of the least teams to integrate, but there was information included on Howard, which I found compelling. There were good tidbits on players here and there with Madden having an occasionally insig [...]

    4. victor harris

      Despite Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947, only half of the sixteen major league teams had a black player on their roster when spring training commenced in 1954. However the growing tide of talent signed from the waning Negro Leagues and being nurtured in the minor league system would eventually cause sweeping changes in the composition of major league rosters. With preternaturally gifted stars such as Mays and Aaron already making their presence felt, even teams with serious re [...]

    5. Andrew

      For my 60th birthday, I got the most appropriate book, given my birth year and my passion for baseball. The first games I saw featured Willie Mays and it was a thrill. Madden's book chronicles one of the most, if not the most, remarkable year for the sport. The emergence of African-American stars following Jackie Robinson's breakthrough set the stage for fabulous achievements for teams and individuals.Madden tells the story extremely well. Loved reading this.

    6. Nathanael

      I thought I'd like it. I'm a sucked for baseball books. But it was too much fact and not enough story. The book leaves the impression that the author is a baseball beat writer and his research for the book consisted of reading old baseball columns from the year and his writing of the book consisted of writing a super-long baseball column.Notwithstanding that '54 was a hell of a year, this book didn't quite capture it for me.

    7. Charles M.

      1954 was the first season many of the first wave of black ballplayers hit stardom, including Willie mays, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, Latty Doby, etc was also the first season in which black ballplayers (eight) played against each other in a World Series. This very entertaining book focuses on this very significant season through the eyes of these players and others in recalling what MLB was like 60 years ago; unveiling one of the greatest World Series upsets in history as well!

    8. Dan Lalande

      Persuasive argument that the integrational big bang of 1947, Jackie Robinson's debut, had a sizeable echo: 1954, when enough black players (Mays, Aaron, Banks, Campanella, Doby, Newcombe, Irvin) rose to prominence to constitute a generation. While the political hook is well-served, Madden's heart is in recreating the thrilling pennant races (mostly NY based) of that memorable year.

    9. Casey Nichols

      Not just because I was born this year and my Giants won the World Series, but this is a fascinating book. The impact of Mays and other black stars in place and rising makes for an important glimpse into the changing social fabric of America. Madden infuses the book with details and anecdotes. If you live baseball OR history- read it.

    10. Michael Barker

      Great book about one of my favorite teams the 1954 World Champion New York Giants.This was the Golden Age of baseball in NYC. The Yankee's actually won more games for Casey Stengal than they ever would in a regular season but came in second to the Cleveland Indians. The Giants defeated their nemesis from Brooklyn led by the great Willie Mays and the pitching of Rochester's own Johnny Antonelli.

    11. Mike Manor

      A segment of American that struggled to integrate but bring on Willie Mays, Larry Doby, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and all the others. They showed American what baseball had been missing.And bring on the 2014 World Series.

    12. Morrie

      what made this book special for me was learning of the admiration that deep South native Alvin Dark had for Willie Mays and the way Willie felt about him, with Willie saying that he learned more about baseball from Alvin Dark than anyone else including Leo Durocher.

    13. Doug

      If you want to know why the NL won so many All Star games in a row, the answer is in this book. Thanks Yankees?!?

    14. Bruce Crawford

      Very enjoyable read. Fascinating to learn so much about baseball, race relations in 1954, and the emergence of so many black superstar ballplayers around that time. Wonderful read!

    15. Alvin C.

      If you're a baseball fan, or an old history buff like myself, this is a must read. By Bill Madden, who has covered the sport for more than 30 years for the New York Daily News.

    16. Scott

      Presents an interesting history of 1954 in Major League Baseball. Anyone interested in baseball or the Cleveland Indians will enjoy this book.

    17. Patrick Barry

      A nice light sports read about the 1954 baseball season and the rise of the first group of post-integration black Hall of Famers. It follows the 1954 New York Giants, a team with a mixture of black stars and white stars from the Deep South. The team was just that - a team despite the differences in background. It also follows other black stars as they break into the league, Hank Aaron, Larry Doby, Al Smith, Minnie Minosa to name a few. One of the lessons outlined in the book is how the American [...]

    18. P.e. lolo

      This is a good book on the changes of baseball. So much was happening this year that after I finished this book you can really see why the teams that did not integrate were not going to be winners for many years to come. The teams that did and had players in the minors as well as on the major league roster. The book starts off with the Yankees winners of the 53 series. They would not win another one for a couple of years. It also goes into depth of how the Yankees traded away Vic Power to the Ph [...]

    19. Lance

      As a reader who enjoys books on significant times and events in a particular sport’s history, this book had me very interested. The full title says it best about the year 1954 and the significance it had in baseball history. This book not only looks into the topic of race during this year in Major League Baseball but it also recaps the seasons of the three New York teams and the Cleveland Indians. In that sense of these topics, author Bill Madden does a decent job of taking the reader back to [...]

    20. Billhotto

      Interesting review of the season in which the Yankees lost the pennant, but New York still was home to the World Series winner. The Cleveland Indians won a league record 111 games, the Yankees won 103,which was more than they had won in any of their championship seasons from 1949-1953. However, the Indians were swept in the Series by the New York Giants led by Willie Mays iconic catch and Dusty Rhodes storybook hitting.Madden expands the significance of that season. He explains that 1954 was a w [...]

    21. Tim Basuino

      I picked up this book at a discount – I always enjoy season compendiums, and this would be the last season the Giants would win it all for over a half century. It was also in the middle of what a lot of today’s people think of as baseball’s golden age (even though many, such as the legendary Bill James, point out that it was essentially the opposite).Baseball’s color line had been broken with Jackie Robinson’s debut in 1947, a fact that Madden refers to many times throughout the book. [...]

    22. Anup Sinha

      As a sentimental baseball fan and historian, I enjoyed reading this book and understanding the times of 1954. I do not believe it lived up to its own billing, claiming that 1954 was a turning point in baseball history or in racial relations. It was more of a day-to-day diary or account, with some good background and coloring info on the characters. Some of the research is faulty, little stuff that only a few would notice. There was no mention or tie-in to the civil rights movement that was about [...]

    23. Joseph

      I purchased this book because I wanted to learn about what the world was like the year I was born, as seen through the lens of baseball. And, I was not disappointed. This is a book about the entry of black players into the game, their struggles, and the gains and missed opportunities that various teams and their owners experienced as a result of policies -- formal and informal -- regarding black players. While Jackie Robinson may have broken the color line in 1948, baseball was a long way from w [...]

    24. Tom Gase

      A pretty good book on the 1954 baseball season. I wanted to give this book three stars but in the end I went with four. The second half of this book was really good, great details about games leading up to the World Series and then good info on the World Series itself. The first half of the book though I couldn't get into as much. Took me awhile to get used to the author, Bill Madden, who tends to write very loooooooonng sentences that are run-on sentences. Dude, just break them up into three se [...]

    25. David

      The year 1954 was a watershed year both in baseball and for me personally as a young baseball fanatic when the sport was indeed the national pastime. Reading it brought back many pleasant memories of the game and the times surrounding the events on the diamond. Bill Madden, erstwhile sports reporter for the New York Daily News over the years revisits that pivotal year and puts it into context in terms of the game itself, but particularly the emergence of the black ballplayer. He recounts the tri [...]

    26. Larry Lutzak

      Personally, Willie Mays is the greatest ballplayer that I ever saw play the game and my all-time favorite player. The book itself is a great read as it recalls much of the history that led, after WWII, to the integration of African American and hispanic athletes into MLB. It captures, for me, the flavor of the 1954 season whenI was only three and a half years old. Yet I almost feel that I was there when Willie Mays made that game-saving catch AND throw in Game One of the 1954 World Series. It al [...]

    27. Kyle

      Amazing premise for a book, but overall, it somewhat misses the intended mark. Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks are mentioned in passing, and the majority of the book lacked any real depth. It is a shame because the title alone is quite intriguing, and the book could have been spectacular rather than falling flat. Also, the predicted demise of the New York Yankees is not nearly developed enough to garner any support, especially when looking at the list of World Series champions for the decade after th [...]

    28. Brock

      1954 by Bill Madden was a very joyful book. It was a little harder to read because it is a nonfiction book. But it was still very delightful. It is about one of the first African American of many to play in the major leagues. One of the thing i liked about the book was that it inspired me. Because anyone can believe, and if you can believe you can do it.The blacks couldn't stay in the same hotel as their team. The fans booed at them every time they were on the field or at the plate. Most of the [...]

    29. Chris Dean

      A book chronicling any season in baseball history is always a welcome addition to my library. This book does a good job of detailing the seasons of the four primary powers at the time, Cleveland, New York Yankees and Giants and Brooklyn. It also does what the title indicates and discusses the impact of the current and incoming black players to the major leagues. I found the latter part more intriguing, especially the stories of some of the lesser known early pioneers of the game such as Gene Bak [...]

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