The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity

By Lawrence Baldassaro; Richard A. Johnson | Go to book overview

8
Diamonds out of the Coal Mines:
Slavic Americans in Baseball

NEAL PEASE

On 13 May 1958, a sunny afternoon in Chicago, Stan Musial came to bat as a pinch hitter for his St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning of a close game with the Cubs in Wrigley Field. An established star of the first rank and defending batting champion of the National League, the durable Musial rarely came off the bench despite his thirty-seven years. The only reason he was not in the lineup that day was that his manager, Fred Hutchinson, had hoped that his first baseman would collect his next hit in front of his home fans in Sportsman's Park, but the game situation dictated otherwise. When he laced a 2–2 curveball to left field for a double, the son of a Polish immigrant and his Slovak American wife became the eighth player to amass three thousand major league hits. The pitcher who surrendered the milestone blow was a twenty-two-year-old right-hander named Moe Drabowsky who, according to Musial, “had me beat on at least one point. He'd actually been born in Poland.”1 This memorable at bat, matching the young Pole against the greatest of all players of east European ancestry, stands as an apt symbol of an era when athletes of Slavic origins reached the peak of their influence in professional baseball, a development that started slowly, built gradually during the opening decades of the twentieth century, and crested during and directly after the Second World War. Along with Ike, Elvis, and the Chevy, muscular sluggers whose forebears hailed from the other side of

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The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books in the Writing Baseball Series ii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: The Many Fathers of Baseball 6
  • 3: German Americans in Major League Baseball 27
  • 4: [Slide, Kelly, Slide] 55
  • 5: Unreconciled Strivings 68
  • 6: Before Joe D 92
  • 7: From Pike to Green with Greenberg in Between 116
  • 8: Diamonds Out of the Coal Mines 142
  • 9: The Latin Quarter in the Major Leagues 162
  • 10: Baseball and Racism's Traveling Eye 177
  • Contributors Index 197
  • Contributors 199
  • Index 201
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