In this Book

Barnstorming to Heaven
summary
A rare insider’s perspective on baseball’s great barnstorming age.
   
The Indianapolis Clowns were a black touring baseball team that featured an entertaining mix of comedy, showmanship, and skill. Sometimes referred to as the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball—though many of the Globetrotters’ routines were borrowed directly from the Clowns—they captured the affection of Americans of all ethnicities and classes.

Alan Pollock’s father, Syd, owned the Clowns, as well as a series of black barnstorming teams that crisscrossed the country from the late 1920s until the mid-1960s. They played every venue imaginable, from little league fields to Yankee Stadium, and toured the South, the Northeast, the Midwest, the Canadian Rockies, the Dakotas, the Southwest, the Far West—anywhere there was a crowd willing to shell out a few dollars for an unforgettable evening.

Alan grew up around the team and describes in vivid detail the comedy routines of Richard “King Tut” King, “Spec Bebob” Bell, Reece “Goose” Tatum; the “warpaint” and outlandish costumes worn by players in the early days; and the crowd-pleasing displays of amazing skill known as pepperball and shadowball. These men were entertainers, but they were also among the most gifted athletes of their day, making a living in sports the only way a black man could. They played to win.

More than just a baseball story, these recollections tell the story of great societal changes in America from the roaring twenties, through the years of the Great Depression and World War II, and into the Civil Rights era.
 

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page
  2. pp. 2-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-4
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  1. Part One: Celebration: The Essence of the Clowns
  2. pp. 5-6
  1. 1. The Heart and Soul of Black Baseball
  2. pp. 7-21
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  1. 2. Peanuts, Goose and Ed
  2. pp. 22-33
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  1. 3. Nature Boy, Prince Jo and Birmingham Sam
  2. pp. 34-38
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  1. Part Two: Syd Pollock: The Man Behind the Clowns
  2. pp. 39-40
  1. 4. Dad and Baseball
  2. pp. 41-50
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  1. 5. View from the Office
  2. pp. 51-59
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  1. 6. View from the Bus
  2. pp. 60-68
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  1. Part Three: The Twenties and Thirties: Road Map
  2. pp. 69-70
  1. 7. Blue Sox, Red Sox and Cuban Stars
  2. pp. 71-81
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  1. 8. Enter the Clowns
  2. pp. 82-92
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  1. Part Four: The Forties: With Fire
  2. pp. 93-94
  1. 9. Denver Post Tournament Champions
  2. pp. 95-105
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  1. 10. Bunny and Buster
  2. pp. 106-113
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  1. 11. Style Defined and Refined
  2. pp. 114-120
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  1. 12. Highlights and Insights
  2. pp. 121-129
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  1. 13. More Tales of Goose and Tut
  2. pp. 130-136
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  1. 14. Life on the Road
  2. pp. 137-148
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  1. 15. At the Helm
  2. pp. 149-160
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  1. 16. Remembrance of Players Past
  2. pp. 161-170
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  1. Part Five: The Fifties: The Jody Transition
  2. pp. 171-172
  1. 17. First Pennant
  2. pp. 173-180
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  1. Photos
  2. pp. 181-214
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  1. 18. Repeat Champions
  2. pp. 215-223
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  1. 19. A Shortstop Named Henry
  2. pp. 224-237
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  1. 20. Toni Stone
  2. pp. 238-251
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  1. 21. Charlie, Connie and Peanut
  2. pp. 252-265
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  1. 22. Jackie Robinson's All-Stars
  2. pp. 266-270
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  1. 23. On the Road Again
  2. pp. 271-286
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  1. 24. Farewell to the King
  2. pp. 287-295
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  1. 25. Bobo, Yogi and Chauff
  2. pp. 296-308
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  1. Part Six: The Sixties: A Section Reserved for Whites
  2. pp. 309-310
  1. 26. No Camelot for the Clowns
  2. pp. 311-316
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  1. 27. The Clowns in Cooperstown
  2. pp. 317-326
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  1. 28. Bobo Revisited
  2. pp. 327-333
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  1. 29. My Roomie
  2. pp. 334-349
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  1. 30. On Being Black and on the Road
  2. pp. 350-357
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  1. 31. Riding into the Sunset
  2. pp. 358-368
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  1. 32. One Last Hurrah
  2. pp. 369-376
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  1. Part Seven: As Mailmen Whistle
  2. pp. 377-378
  1. 33. The Last Whaler
  2. pp. 379-388
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  1. 34. Legacy
  2. pp. 389-393
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 394-407
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 395-407
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