ROCKWALL (February 4, 2014) My long time friend and Rockwall resident, Bob May, is an avid baseball fan. That is not quite correct, however. It would be better to say that the game of baseball pumps energetically through Bob’s veins and gives him zest for life.
One of his most memorable moments was in 1949 when his dad took him to his first Major League game at Boston’s Fenway Park where he would see the great players like Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio and fall in love with America’s pastime.
Bob is a committed Christian and after God, his family and country, there is baseball. I think he wishes that he had invented the game. Well, he didn’t invent the game but he has found an exceptional way to bring to life an era of ballplayers that must not be forgotten.
In his own words, “How would twenty-one of the Black Ball era (Negro Leagues and Independent Black Teams) like to be honored? I believe they would like to be honored in action on the playing field…These twenty-one BB Stars (team name in the book) deserve the opportunity to play the great Major League teams/players in organized competition.”
Bob’s hobby for 57 years has been for the game and sophisticated board games that simulate on-field action. In 1993 as president of Pursue the Pennant Baseball Game Company he produced an action board game from the statistics of 416 Hall of Fame players, including 21 Negro League players.
From these player stats he developed an idea to write this book that honors the great black ball players from the past. The story line revolves around a full season of games between these heroes of the Negro League playing against the great players of Major League baseball fame.
The reader gets a close action look as if he or she were sitting behind the dugout of the black players. Players like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell come to life as they hit and pitch against Hall of Famers such as Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax and Babe Ruth.
There are many historical books published about the Negro League and its players and their play against the Major League. But these are based on post season barn storming teams and their exploits are anecdotal. The difference in Bob’s book is the in-season battles for first place, a look at how they would have fared against each other based on their individual statistics.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the first chapter. Here Bob lists the Black Ball players, their longevity playing and managing as well as a biographical sketch of each.
The Best Season is an interesting and entertaining book. But it is much more than that for the baseball fan. Bob has caught the theme and pulse of what baseball is as he delivers true statistics of the greatest players and blends them into an action season related from the radio announcer perspective and enjoyed by the fan.
Mission accomplished, Bob. You have honored the Black Ball players with action on the playing field and given us an exciting look at these heroes of the game.
By Blue Ribbon News special contributor John Adams of Rockwall. John is in telecom sales and also serves as an Associate Pastor at Poetry Baptist Church. He is active in the Rockwall Breakfast Rotary. Visit his guest columns at BlueRibbonNews.com and his blog at written4u.com.