Neil Lanctot teaches modern American history at the University of Delaware. Recipient of the Seymour Medal from the Society for American Baseball Research, he is the author of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution. His new book, Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella, is the first biography of the Dodger great in decades and the most authoritative ever published. Campanella played eight years in the Negro Leagues with the Washington (later Baltimore) Elite Giants. When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, he became the first African-American catcher in the 20th century in the major leagues. Campy was a mainstay of the great Dodger teams of the late 1940s and 1950s and was a three-time MVP. Following an automobile accident in 1958 which left him paralyzed below the neck, Roy Campanella became another sort of pioneer, learning new physical therapy techniques and becoming an inspiration to other athletes and physically handicapped people.
Award-winning historian Rob Ruck teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh andThe Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic. His documentary work includes the Emmy Award-winning Kings on the Hill: Baseball's Forgotten Men. In his new book, Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latino Game, Ruck shows how the colliding histories of black and Latin ballplayers ran the gamut from early collaboration in civil rights protests to simmering intraracial tensions. Integration of the major leagues was painful: it gutted the once vibrant Negro Leagues and often subjected Latin players to Jim Crow racism. From 27% of all major leaguers in 1975, African Americcans now make up less than one-tenth; the number of Latin Americans by contrast has grown to more than a quarter of all major leaguers. Ruck's research reveals a stunning truth: baseball has never been stronger as a business. never weaker as a game.
Recorded On: Sunday, November 6, 2011