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Beyond Stereotypes

American Jews and Sports in the Twentieth Century

Edited by Ari F. Sclar

In the decades after the Civil War, sports slowly gained a prominent position within American culture. This development provided Jews with opportunities to participate in one of the few American cultures not closed off to them. Jewish athleticism challenged anti-Semitic depictions of Jews’ supposed physical inferiority while helping to construct a modern American Jewish identity. An Americanization narrative emerged that connected Jewish athleticism with full acceptance and integration into American society. This acceptance was not without struggle, but Jews succeeded and participated in the American sporting culture as athletes, coaches, owners, and fans. The diversity of topics in this volume reflect that the field of the history of American Jews and sports is growing and has moved beyond the need to overcome the idea that Jews are simply “People of the Book.” The contributions to this volume paint a broad picture of Jewish participation in sports, with essays written by respected historians who have examined specific sports, individuals, leagues, cities, and the impact of sport on Judaism. Despite the continued belief that Jewish religious or cultural identity remains somehow distinct from the American idea of the “athlete,” the volume demonstrates that American Jews have had a tremendous contribution to American sports—and conversely, that sports have helped construct American Jewish culture and identity.

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The Big Leagues Go to Washington

Congress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989

David George Surdam

Between 1951 and 1989, Congress held a series of hearings to investigate the antitrust aspects of professional sports leagues. Among the concerns: ownership control of players, restrictions on new franchises, territorial protection, and other cartel-like behaviors. In The Big Leagues Go to Washington , David Surdam chronicles the key issues that arose during the hearings and the ways opposing sides used economic data and theory to define what was right, what was feasible, and what was advantageous to one party or another. As Surdam shows, the hearings affected matters as fundamental to the modern game as broadcasting rights, player drafts and unions, league mergers, and the dominance of the New York Yankees. He also charts how lawmakers from the West and South pressed for the relocation of ailing franchises to their states and the ways savvy owners dodged congressional interference when they could and adapted to it when necessary.

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Billy Cannon

A Long, Long Run

Charles N. deGravelles

Billy Cannon’s name, his image, and his remarkable athletic career serve as emblems for Louisiana State University, the Southeastern Conference, and college football. LSU’s only Heisman Trophy winner, Cannon led the Tigers to a national championship in 1958, igniting a love of the game in Louisiana and establishing a tradition of greatness at LSU.

But like many stories of lionized athletes who rise to the status of legend, there was a fall—and in the case of Billy Cannon, also redemption. For the first time, Charles N. deGravelles reveals in full the thrilling highs and unexpected lows of Cannon’s life, in Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run.

Through conversations with Cannon, deGravelles follows the athlete-turned-reformer from his boyhood in a working-class Baton Rouge neighborhood to his sudden rush of fame as the leading high school running back in the country. Personal and previously unpublished stories about Cannon’s glory days at LSU and his stellar but controversial career in the pros, as well as details of his indictment for counterfeiting and his post-release work as staff dentist at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, unfold in a riveting biography characterized by uncanny success, deep internal struggles, and a champion’s spirit that pushed through it all.

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Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1902-1931

The Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues

by Michael E. Lomax

As the companion volume to Black Baseball Entrepreneurs,1860–1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary, Lomax’s new book continues to chronicle the history of black baseball in the United States. The first volume traced the development of baseball from an exercise in community building among African Americans in the pre–Civil War era into a commercialized amusement and a rare and lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurship within the black community. In this book, Lomax takes a closer look at the marketing and promotion of the Negro Leagues by black baseball magnates. He explores how race influenced black baseball’s institutional development and how it shaped the business relationship with white clubs and managers. Lomax explains how the decisions that black baseball magnates made to insulate themselves from outside influences may have distorted their perceptions and ultimately led to the Negro Leagues‘ demise. The collapse of the Negro Leagues by 1931 was, Lomax argues, “a dream deferred in the overall African American pursuit for freedom and self-determination.”

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Blackout

The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training

Chris Lamb

In the spring of 1946, following the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, America found itself still struggling with the subtler but no less insidious tyrannies of racism and segregation at home. In the midst of it all, Jackie Robinson, a full year away from breaking major league baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, was undergoing a harrowing dress rehearsal for integration—his first spring training as a minor league prospect with the Montreal Royals, Brooklyn’s AAA team. In Blackout, Chris Lamb tells what happened during these six weeks in segregated Florida—six weeks that would become a critical juncture for the national pastime and for an American society on the threshold of a civil rights revolution.

Blackout chronicles Robinson’s tremendous ordeal during that crucial spring training—how he struggled on the field and off. The restaurants and hotels that welcomed his white teammates were closed to him, and in one city after another he was prohibited from taking the field. Steeping his story in its complex cultural context, Lamb describes Robinson’s determination and anxiety, the reaction of the black and white communities to his appearance, and the unique and influential role of the press—mainstream reporting, the alternative black weeklies, and the Communist Daily Worker—in the integration of baseball. Told here in detail for the first time, this story brilliantly encapsulates the larger history of a man, a sport, and a nation on the verge of great and enduring change.

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Bob Davies

A Basketball Legend

By Barry Martin

Bob Davies played a significant role in the development of modern basketball. Davies was one of the first three NBA superstars. As a Rochester Royal, he played on one of only four teams in NBA history to win the playoff championship or finish or tie for first in their division or conference for five consecutive seasons. Davies is credited with introducing the behind-the-back-dribble, developing the penetration and transition styles of play, and creating several innovative passes. Named by Sports Illustrated as one of the eight most influential players in the first century of college basketball, the NBA selected him as one of the ten best players in its first quarter century. Davies was a rarity in American sports history—a genuine sports hero and role model. This biography is rich in photos, archival materials and personal interviews.

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Brand NFL, Pbk Ed.

Paperback edition, With a new preface by the author — Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport

Michael Oriard

Professional football today is an $8 billion sports entertainment industry--and the most popular spectator sport in America, with designs on expansion across the globe. In this astute field-level view of the National Football League since 1960, Michael Oriard looks closely at the development of the sport and at the image of the NFL and its unique place in American life. New to the paperback edition is Oriard's analysis of the offseason labor negotiations and their potential effects on the future of the sport, and his account of how the NFL is dealing with the latest research on concussions and head injuries.

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Breaking Through

John B. McLendon, Basketball Legend and Civil Rights Pioneer

John B. McLendon was the last living protégé of basketball’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith, and one of the “top ten basketball coaches of the century” in Billy Packer’s opinion. McLendon’s amazing records in college and pro basketball earned him a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame (the first black coach to be inducted), and his coaching philosophy has had a huge influence on basketball coaches. Breaking Through is also a powerful and inspirational story about segregation and a champion’s struggle for equality in 1940s and 50s America.

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The Brooklyn Cyclones

Hardball Dreams and the New Coney Island

Ben Osborne

When professional baseball returned to Brooklyn in 2001, fans were jubilant and the media swarmed. After losing the Brooklyn Dodgers to California 44 years ago, Brooklyn baseball fans could once again claim a team of their own: the Cyclones, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets.

The Brooklyn Cyclones: Hardball Dreams and the New Coney Island recounts that first season of the Cyclones. From the construction of the incredible Keyspan Park at Coney Island to their improbable successes on the field, Ben Osborne tells the story of the Cyclones' delicate first year of operation. We see the story up close and personal through the eyes of two very different young men. The first is Anthony Otero, who was raised in a Coney Island housing project and loves baseball, but has never seen a game in person until the Cyclones land in his neighborhood. The second is Brett Kay, a young man from California who has never been to New York, until he becomes the catcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

From the plans of politicians like Rudy Giuliani and Howard Golden, to the poverty of Coney Island's citizens, The Brooklyn Cyclones reveals the stories behind the headlines to show that the reality of creating a new sports team often involves broken promises and shattered dreams. Osborne includes chapters on the Cyclones' rivalry with the Staten Island Yankees, the Cyclones' chances of capturing the New York-Penn League title, and an epilogue updating Kay's, Otero's, and the Cyclones' progress through the 2003 season.

Ultimately, Ben Osborne shows how, for these two young men, the Brooklyn Cyclones created dreams the same way the Brooklyn Dodgers allowed the boys of Flatbush to dream about one day playing in the Big Leagues.

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The Brothers Hogan

A Fort Worth History

Jacqueline Hogan Towery

The Brothers Hogan: A Fort Worth History is a unique family portrait of one of golf’s greatest legends. Lavishly illustrated with never-before-seen family photos, The Brothers Hogan follows the lives of Ben Hogan, winner of sixty-eight tournaments and nine major championships, and his brother Royal, who climbed the ranks of top amateur golfers even as his brother Ben became one of golf’s most successful pros.

Narrated by Royal’s daughter Jacque, Ben’s niece, this revealing biography not only tells the story of Ben’s and Royal’s remarkable careers but also sets the record straight on the shocking suicide of the boys’ father, on Ben’s strained relationship with his wife Valerie, on the car crash that nearly ended Ben’s career, and on scores of details that have been misconstrued in earlier accounts.

The rise of Colonial Country Club and its legendary course—forever nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley”—and the rise of modern Fort Worth are part of the narrative as the Hogan boys and their city grew up together. Major Fort Worth leaders such as Tex Moncrief, Amon Carter, and  Marvin Leonard, the visionary who built both the Colonial and Shady Oaks courses, figure prominently in the book.

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