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Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball

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The riveting story of four men—Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, and Satchel Paige—whose improbable union on the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s would shape the immediate postwar era of Major League Baseball and beyond. In July 1947, not even three months after Jackie Robinson debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers, snapping the color line that had segregated Major Leagu The riveting story of four men—Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, and Satchel Paige—whose improbable union on the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s would shape the immediate postwar era of Major League Baseball and beyond. In July 1947, not even three months after Jackie Robinson debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers, snapping the color line that had segregated Major League Baseball, Larry Doby would follow in his footsteps on the Cleveland Indians. Though Doby, as the second Black player in the majors, would struggle during his first summer in Cleveland, his subsequent turnaround in 1948 from benchwarmer to superstar sparked one of the wildest and most meaningful seasons in baseball history. In intimate, absorbing detail, Our Team traces the story of the integration of the Cleveland Indians and their quest for a World Series title through four key participants: Bill Veeck, an eccentric and visionary owner adept at exploding fireworks on and off the field; Larry Doby, a soft-spoken, hard-hitting pioneer whose major-league breakthrough shattered stereotypes that so much of white America held about Black ballplayers; Bob Feller, a pitching prodigy from the Iowa cornfields who set the template for the athlete as businessman; and Satchel Paige, a legendary pitcher from the Negro Leagues whose belated entry into the majors whipped baseball fans across the country into a frenzy. Together, as the backbone of a team that epitomized the postwar American spirit in all its hopes and contradictions, these four men would captivate the nation by storming to the World Series--all the while rewriting the rules of what was possible in sports.


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The riveting story of four men—Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, and Satchel Paige—whose improbable union on the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s would shape the immediate postwar era of Major League Baseball and beyond. In July 1947, not even three months after Jackie Robinson debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers, snapping the color line that had segregated Major Leagu The riveting story of four men—Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, and Satchel Paige—whose improbable union on the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s would shape the immediate postwar era of Major League Baseball and beyond. In July 1947, not even three months after Jackie Robinson debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers, snapping the color line that had segregated Major League Baseball, Larry Doby would follow in his footsteps on the Cleveland Indians. Though Doby, as the second Black player in the majors, would struggle during his first summer in Cleveland, his subsequent turnaround in 1948 from benchwarmer to superstar sparked one of the wildest and most meaningful seasons in baseball history. In intimate, absorbing detail, Our Team traces the story of the integration of the Cleveland Indians and their quest for a World Series title through four key participants: Bill Veeck, an eccentric and visionary owner adept at exploding fireworks on and off the field; Larry Doby, a soft-spoken, hard-hitting pioneer whose major-league breakthrough shattered stereotypes that so much of white America held about Black ballplayers; Bob Feller, a pitching prodigy from the Iowa cornfields who set the template for the athlete as businessman; and Satchel Paige, a legendary pitcher from the Negro Leagues whose belated entry into the majors whipped baseball fans across the country into a frenzy. Together, as the backbone of a team that epitomized the postwar American spirit in all its hopes and contradictions, these four men would captivate the nation by storming to the World Series--all the while rewriting the rules of what was possible in sports.

30 review for Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Jackie Robinson may have been the first Black player to smash the color barrier and play for the major leagues, but his is not the only story in the era of baseball’s desegregation. The second, less frequently discussed Black player to be invited into the majors, Larry Doby, joined the Cleveland Indians mere months after Robinson historically signed with the Dodgers in 1947. With Doby’s help, the Ohio team would go on to win the World Series the next year. Journalist Luke Epplin tells the thrill Jackie Robinson may have been the first Black player to smash the color barrier and play for the major leagues, but his is not the only story in the era of baseball’s desegregation. The second, less frequently discussed Black player to be invited into the majors, Larry Doby, joined the Cleveland Indians mere months after Robinson historically signed with the Dodgers in 1947. With Doby’s help, the Ohio team would go on to win the World Series the next year. Journalist Luke Epplin tells the thrilling story of the Indians’ 1948 World Series win in “Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball.” See the rest of my review in the Christian Science Monitor.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Theo Logos

    Our Team covers a lot of ground. Its detailed sketches of Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck, and Bob Feller amount to mini biographies. It covers the history of the dawn of integration in Major League Baseball together with the last days and downfall of the Negro Leagues. Finally, it tells the story of how Bill Veeck built the Indians into a championship team, and how the four personalities sketched in the book came together to lead that team to World Series victory in 1948. Our Team is well Our Team covers a lot of ground. Its detailed sketches of Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck, and Bob Feller amount to mini biographies. It covers the history of the dawn of integration in Major League Baseball together with the last days and downfall of the Negro Leagues. Finally, it tells the story of how Bill Veeck built the Indians into a championship team, and how the four personalities sketched in the book came together to lead that team to World Series victory in 1948. Our Team is well written. It grabbed my attention from the start, and never let it lag. Its bios of the four men whose paths would intersect in Cleveland are compelling and well drawn. It captures the post war era of dawning integration in baseball convincingly, showing both the issues and individuals who propelled it, and the major roadblocks and attitudes that created such a thorny road for the Black men who were its pioneers. Its vivid picture of the Indians 1948 Championship season is stirring, bringing together the stories of the book’s four protagonist, showing their impact on that season, and the impact the season had on their personal stories. Baseball more than any other sport is concerned with its history. Baseball history continues to live and breath through the stadiums and clubhouses of the modern game. If you are anything more than a casual fan, you know what I mean, and you value that history. That’s why you should read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    The Cleveland Indians won the World Series in 1948, for the first time since 1920 and the last time since, well, ever. This is the story of this team told through 4 men. Bill Veeck bought the team in 1946. You might know of him from his wacky stunts, like sending up a little person to bat, or the “Disco Demolition Night” that went horribly wrong. But he wasn’t just about stunts, he was an innovator who changed the game. Veeck almost became the first owner to integrate baseball, but his deal to pur The Cleveland Indians won the World Series in 1948, for the first time since 1920 and the last time since, well, ever. This is the story of this team told through 4 men. Bill Veeck bought the team in 1946. You might know of him from his wacky stunts, like sending up a little person to bat, or the “Disco Demolition Night” that went horribly wrong. But he wasn’t just about stunts, he was an innovator who changed the game. Veeck almost became the first owner to integrate baseball, but his deal to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 was nixed by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Veeck got a second chance at integration after buying the Indians. Bill Veeck wasn’t just a promoter, he was also obsessed with winning, and a couple Negro League signings as well as some other shrewd moves built the powerhouse team of ’48. This championship team, aided by Veeck's promotional skills, set an attendance record of 2.6M fans, shattering the old MLB mark of 2.2M set by the Yankees. The Indians wouldn’t beat that record until 1995 (even the post-Veeck 1954 team that won the Pennant only drew 1.3M fans). Bob Feller was the best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1939-41. He then left baseball to serve in WW2, but in his first full season back in 1946, he resumed right where he left off. I loved the stories of him being plucked off the farm and into the major leagues as a 17 year old, and how people reacted to seeing his wondrous right arm in action. Quite possibly, no one worked harder than Bob Feller. Despite his dedication, by 1948, he had entered the next phase of his career, where he was good instead of great. No one is immune to the effects of time. It was sad that when Feller finally had the chance to play in a World Series, he lost both games he pitched (though he pitched very well in Game 1 and was just stymied by some bad luck and a lack of run support). I said Feller was the best pitcher in MLB, not the best pitcher in “baseball”. He might have also been the best pitcher in baseball, but unfortunately, we’ll never know. Satchel Paige, in his prime, might have been even better. But he was a Negro League pitcher and never got a chance to show what he could do in MLB in his prime. He finally got a chance in 1948 when he was 42 years old. He pitched very well in a relief/spot-starting role (2.48 ERA in 72 innings), showing that he was a legit major leaguer even at that age. He went on to have even better years with the St. Louis Browns in his mid 40’s. We can only wonder what he would have done in the majors in his prime. You’ll get a sense for Paige’s colorful personality, but what he was really like is a bit of a mystery. It’s possible some of his personality was playing a part, giving white people a character they could enjoy but not feel threatened by. When it came to baseball though, not even his folksy demeaner could mask how deadly serious he was about the craft of pitching. Feller and Paige played against each other in various barnstorming tours before their reunion on the '48 Indians squad. Feller had a record of making patronizing and dismissing remarks about Paige’s ability, and the ability of other Negro league players, that look both racist and laughably wrong now. However, these barnstorming tours, that Feller organized, were also a main cause of convincing fans and team owners that Negro League players could compete with white players. Satchel Paige was the seventh black man to play in MLB. The Indians also had the 2nd, Larry Doby. Doby had a rough start during his debut season in 1947 but figured things out in 1948. He would become a star player and one of the all-time greats. Doby is underappreciated, both for his baseball accomplishments, which are legit Hall-of-Fame caliber, and his status as a pioneer alongside Jackie Robinson. As Doby himself put it “Nobody said, ‘we’re going to be nice to the second Black’”. As much as I enjoyed the stories of Bill Veeck’s innovations, Bob Feller’s career path from pheenom to superstar to “overpaid prima donna” (at least in the eyes of the fans), and the legend of Satchel Paige, it was the stories of the day-to-day trials of Larry Doby that stuck with me the most.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    The year 1948 holds a special intrigue to me because it was the year my parents were born. I tend to view history from that point as being in the near or distant past. That year, as I know well from having watched Major League countless times and seeing the newspaper headlines flash before my eyes, was the last time that the Cleveland Indians won the World Series. A year before the Yankees rose to a decade’s long dominance, Cleveland, a city known later for a burning lake, was the capital of bas The year 1948 holds a special intrigue to me because it was the year my parents were born. I tend to view history from that point as being in the near or distant past. That year, as I know well from having watched Major League countless times and seeing the newspaper headlines flash before my eyes, was the last time that the Cleveland Indians won the World Series. A year before the Yankees rose to a decade’s long dominance, Cleveland, a city known later for a burning lake, was the capital of baseball, a title that a generation of fans would look back on for the rest of their lives. Much has been written about baseball icons Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, Larry Doby- who broke the color barrier in the American League, and showman Bill Veeck. Each man has had multiple biographies and memoirs written about him, yet historian Luke Epplin wanted to showcase the team that Veeck put together that would ultimately win Cleveland its last championship. Veeck was a visionary, combining gimmicks with a team of scouts and shrewd eye that both put fans in the seats and a quality team on the field. He was a winner every where he went, responsible for the Cubs glory years in the 1930s and the Ivy on the walls of Wrigley as well as leading the then minor league Milwaukee Brewers to an international league title during the war years. The war put a damper on Veeck’s grandiose plans, but following a discharge for a wounded leg which would eventually be amputated, Veeck itched to get back into baseball again. He desired a team for sale at a low price tag, one that he could put his mark on and mold into a champion. The front runners were the Phillies and the Indians with a new stadium, Municipal, which could hold a capacity of 78,000 fans. Intrigued, Veeck reentered the baseball world and immediately got the ball rolling. Although he lost over four years to the war, the Indians were still Bob Feller’s team. The once teenaged phenom from Iowa was still a dominant pitcher in the post war years although he relied on savvy and knowledge as much as his fast ball. Cognizant that he lost four years of income to the war, Feller became his own agent and negotiated with Veeck for top contracts. He also ran a barnstorming tour for years that pitted the top major leaguers against the top negro league players. Central to the tour were Feller’s duels against the ageless Satchel Paige. Thought of as too old to break baseball’s color barrier, Paige employed an array of pitches to match Feller pitch for pitch, strike out for strike out for years on these barnstorming tours. Feller recognized that if Paige had been white, he would have loved him for teammate and thought that the two of them could have won multiple championships, anchoring a pitching staff that in the 1940s only employed one or two starters at most. One person who took Feller’s words to heart and mind was Bill Veeck, who believed that if he could convince the Cleveland fan base and management of the bevy of talent in the negro leagues, would win Cleveland and Feller its long sought after title. Months after Jackie Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Veeck purchased the contract of Larry Doby from the Newark Eagles. Unlike Robinson who had a year to prepare in the minor leagues, Doby reported to the Indians immediately. Although not as much of an impact player as Veeck thought he would be, Doby showed potential in center field and as both a power and speed threat. After a spring training where he outplayed his competition, Doby was named the Indians starting center fielder in 1948. Feller at the time was past his prime but still a big name pitcher. Player manager Lou Boudreau was considered a fan favorite and perennial MVP candidate. Veeck scouted the country for talent and believed he had put together a championship team. Only one piece remained, a pitcher to counter Feller and save his arm for when it mattered most. That man, Satchel Paige, long believed his time had past, but had rediscovered his fastball and Veeck’s eye. Veeck believed that a 46 year old “rookie” pitcher was the last piece to the championship puzzle. Although knowing the outcome of the 1948 World Series from baseball history, I found Epplin’s account of this special season to be captivating. He brought to life characters from baseball’s past and humanized them, showing various sides to their personas both on and off of the field. I was most intrigued by Veeck, baseball’s showman who made a winner wherever he went. Whether it was 10 am games in Milwaukee or exploding fireworks in Cleveland, Veeck’s visions are still used at many ballparks today. Doby is not considered on the same plane as Robinson but he endured as much as the trailblazer of the American League. Following the micro history of the 1948 Indians, I am intrigued to read full length biographies on all of the principal players. The team Veeck bought and constructed was indeed a special one, and I look forward to future history books that Epplin has in store for his readers. ⚾️ 4 stars ⚾️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I wish I could have seen Cleveland's massive Municipal Park which opened in 1932 and was demolished in 1996. http://projectballpark.org/history/al... It had a seating capacity of slightly more than 78,000, which gave the stadium the largest outdoor seating capacity of any stadium in the world at that time. I always thought that Cleveland was where baseball careers die, but in 1948 this stadium was rocking. "Packed shoulder to shoulder around them were more people than Veeck likely could've imagi I wish I could have seen Cleveland's massive Municipal Park which opened in 1932 and was demolished in 1996. http://projectballpark.org/history/al... It had a seating capacity of slightly more than 78,000, which gave the stadium the largest outdoor seating capacity of any stadium in the world at that time. I always thought that Cleveland was where baseball careers die, but in 1948 this stadium was rocking. "Packed shoulder to shoulder around them were more people than Veeck likely could've imagined the first time he'd glimpsed the mammoth lakefront stadium-some 86,288 fans in total, by far the largest crowd ever to attend a major-league baseball game."(p.251) It was the 1948 World Series Cleveland vs the Boston Braves. In a well-researched book, Luke Epplin tells the story of four individuals, Larry Doby, Satchel Page, Bob Feller and Bill Veeck and how they came together during 1948 baseball season in Cleveland to win the World Series. The bottom line is that the book is more about post World War II America and Cleveland history and also the story about race relations in our national past time. Everyone remembers what Jackie Robinson went through to integrate baseball. When Larry Doby broke the color line in the American League 11 weeks after Robinson's National League debut, he faced precisely the same abuses and indignities as Robinson. It was Larry Doby and Satchel Paige--two Black men who were instrumental in bringing a World Series championship to Cleveland--and Bill Veeck and Bob Feller. Feller was, arguably, the greatest pitcher in the history of the game, but at the end of his career by the time Doby and Paige arrived. Bill Veeck was known as a great promoter. However, what stands out in Epplin's book is the fact that he was also a great humanitarian, one who nurtured Doby through difficult times and one who remained Larry's friend for life. "Our Team" is arguably at its most compelling not in Epplin’s account of the ’48 pennant race but in setting up the backstories of its four protagonists, and describing the deflating aftermath of that thrilling season. The story is very interesting and Epplin's prose is captivating. "Our Team" is creative fiction executed perfectly.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, as many know, was 1948. What might not be as well known is they had not one, but two Black players on their championship team just one year after the integration of Major League Baseball. The owner of the Indians, Bill Veeck, was just as determined as Branch Rickey to integrate the sport because he also saw the skills that Black players would bring to his club. Veeck’s story associated with this team is one of the four men highlighted in The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, as many know, was 1948. What might not be as well known is they had not one, but two Black players on their championship team just one year after the integration of Major League Baseball. The owner of the Indians, Bill Veeck, was just as determined as Branch Rickey to integrate the sport because he also saw the skills that Black players would bring to his club. Veeck’s story associated with this team is one of the four men highlighted in this very good book by Luke Epplin. The two Black players, Hall of Famers Larry Doby and Satchel Paige, took very different paths to get to the clubhouse of Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1948. Doby was called up to the Indians by Veeck mid season in 1947, just a few months after Jackie Robinson. Unlike Robinson, who had spent time in the white minor leagues after the Negro Leagues and before joining the Dodgers, Doby had no such time to adjust. After Veeck bought Dolby’s contract from Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles, Doby was subjected to much the same harsh treatment as Robinson, but it came as a bigger shock. Doby was also questioning his ability to stick with the Indians - until it all came together for him in 1948 - at least on the field. Paige was a little different as Veeck’s call to him later in 1948 was viewed by many as a gimmick despite Satchel’s ability to still get hitters out, no matter what his official age was. His story is told in a matter of act manner, just like Veeck and Doby, relying mainly on second hand accounts and research. Some may prefer first hand accounts for this type of book, but it works for this one. The fourth man whose story is important to tell for a complete picture of the 1048 Indians is the established star of the team, Bob Feller. He actually struggled during the first half of that season but came on strong in September and the World Series. The intertwining of his story and Paige’s, especially when they were performing on barmstorming teams before becoming Cleveland teammates, was easily the most enjoyable aspect of the book for me. Not just for the baseball, nor for the contrast in what each man got out the games, but for the mutual respect they had for each other. Epplin did very well with this aspect. Readers who like reading about baseball’s integration as well as Indians fans should be sure to read this book. It is one that while short on direct quotes and material, is chock full of great stories about the four men who helped bring a championship to Cleveland. https://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/20...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    Highly recommended as a jumping-off point for delving into some (semi-recent) baseball history. Makes me excited to pick up the Satchel Paige biography I just added to my GR shelves, later this year. Audiobook is beautifully narrated by Leon Nixon. And thanks, thanks, thanks to Amy for gifting me a hardcover copy! 12 Friends of Bookmas rec

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Montague

    In this meticulously researched book, the author Luke Epplin focuses on four figures: Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, Larry Doby and Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Each of these men are at different stages in their lives and careers when their efforts catapult the 1948 Cleveland Indians to the World Series. This book is not only a love letter to these men but to the city of Cleveland which though a punchline to many was once a titan of industry and is still home to around 380,000. Even though little new ground In this meticulously researched book, the author Luke Epplin focuses on four figures: Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, Larry Doby and Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Each of these men are at different stages in their lives and careers when their efforts catapult the 1948 Cleveland Indians to the World Series. This book is not only a love letter to these men but to the city of Cleveland which though a punchline to many was once a titan of industry and is still home to around 380,000. Even though little new ground is broken as each of these individuals have had biographies done on them it is still written with enough panache and verve to make them come to life. While, there are many interesting anecdotes and observations throughout, the thing that fascinated me the most was how the integration of baseball affected barnstorming. Barnstorming, the practice of baseball players traveling across the country or in some cases the world after their seasons ended was a huge business. Since this side hustle was not sanctioned by Major League Baseball, players were free to chose whomever they wanted to play for or against them. One of the aforementioned players was Bob Feller, who set up a tour after the 1946 season which pitted him and a host of white players against Satchel Paige and a slew of Black players. This tour was not merely a vacation but a series of hard fought games that proved financially lucrative, especially for Feller who made as much in a month and a half as he did for his previous season. It furthered solidified that plenty of Negro League players had the capabilities of not only belonging but thriving in the MLB. Though not outright stated, this model of extracurricular activities was very bad for the centralized cabal that the MLB was and is still somewhat is. On these tours, players could come back injured, exhausted or even worse, frustrated that they were not being compensated fairly or justly. This could lead to more player demands and even possible unionization or the potential to challenge the reserve clause provision. Ironically, integrating the MLB with Negro League stars effectively destroyed the barnstorming. The scenario of white and Black players against one another no longer a novelty, lead to a drastic reduction of intrigue and subsequently ticket sales. I was aware that integration effectively shutdown the Negro Leagues, which was a pillar in their communities but did not realize that it also shutdown one of the many money making avenues for players. Even a star of Bob Fellers' magnitude lost money organizing a barnstorming tour after integration. Moreover, you could make a case that this furthered the power of the owners and hastened any player organization which had a monopoly until free agency was permitted in 1975. In a roundabout way, integration strengthened management's hand by giving them a larger labor pool and cutting off a revenue stream for the players. Another interesting tidbit was the animosity between the young and determined Larry Doby and the elder easy-going Satchel Paige. Larry Doby was portrayed as a man who felt the whole world was watching him and acted accordingly. He could seem tense and aloof. In juxtaposition, Satchel was an elder statesman who was supremely confident in his abilities and who had built a comfortable nest egg. Satchel was also a showman whose unique style of pitching and playful demeanor outside of the diamond endured him to spectators. As a living legend, who was motivated by his own legacy and finances he often hammed up for the crowds. Larry, who was quite young and faced racial prejudices in a more taciturn manner, did not appreciate Satchels' antics and thought he was undermining how difficult it was to be the first Black player in the American League. Though not stated, Larry felt Satchel played up to a racial stereotype. While, this dynamic did not mess up team chemistry as evidenced by the World Series it was still interesting to see how personality conflicts have also been an issue. Overall, this book capably brought to life not only the 1948 season but also 4 of the people who most influenced that season and seasons to come. Bob Feller, the ingenue with the golden arm and entrepreneurial ways was the precursor to other cross-over athletes. Satchel Paige, with his slow pitching delivery and quick wit straddled the vaudeville and post-WWII eras. Larry Doby, was the proverbial strong, silent type who is often rhapsodized but more frequently taken for granted. An honest, hard-working man who just wanted acceptance. Bill Veeck, the consummate showman, who perfected the outlandish while still fielding successful clubs. These four men, though different in temperament and experience for one magical season lead Cleveland to a championship that they have yet to taste again in 70 plus years.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Seigler

    Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947, and his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers that season has rightfully gone down in the history books as a significant event in American history. But Robinson wasn't alone; soon after he began to make an impact as an everyday player, other teams decided to take a chance on signing Black players from the Negro Leagues to help out their rosters. The St. Louis Browns were halfhearted in their decision to sign two Black players who were eventua Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947, and his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers that season has rightfully gone down in the history books as a significant event in American history. But Robinson wasn't alone; soon after he began to make an impact as an everyday player, other teams decided to take a chance on signing Black players from the Negro Leagues to help out their rosters. The St. Louis Browns were halfhearted in their decision to sign two Black players who were eventually let go by the beginning of the next season, but the Cleveland Indians took a chance on Larry Doby in 1947, making him the first Black player in the American League. But it's what he did the next season that is so important. "Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball" delivers on its title, highlighting the story of how Doby, legendary Negro League pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige, pitching savant Bob Feller, and mercurial owner Bill Veeck came together to give Cleveland its first World Series title in decades (and last one as of this writing), as well as secure the notion of Black and white players working together to win in America's premier sport (at the time). Luke Epplin digs in deep to highlight the struggles that each man faced in order to find themselves on the path to a championship in 1948, just one year removed from Jackie Robinson's entry into the major leagues and with the notion of Black players on major league squads still seen as an outlier and not an everyday reality. Epplin conveys in particular the stories of how Doby and Paige, generations removed but held back from MLB by the color line all the same, found themselves in the position of overnight ambassadors for their people in a sport that had famously kept Black players out for half a century. Feller, once a phenom from the Iowa cornfields who could do no wrong on the diamond, wore out his welcome a bit after the war when, concerned about lost income from his wartime service, he mounted expensive and time-consuming barnstorming tours and tried to incorporate himself as a brand with endless extra business deals, stretching himself thin and struggling where it really mattered to be Bob Feller: on the pitching mound. And Veeck, the excitable owner who never met a promotion he couldn't use to sell the people of Cleveland on baseball, was recovering from a freak accident during his own war service that would cost him his leg, and whose workaholic ways would cost him his marriage. All four men came together over the course of the 1948 season to power the Indians to a World Series victory that was a landmark for baseball; the previous year, Robinson's Dodgers had faced the Yankees in the World Series, but the Indians were the first integrated team to take the championship in history. It wasn't easy, it wasn't even always fun (especially for Feller, who struggled down the stretch and whose complaints about financial woes earned him little sympathy from the blue-collar fan base), but it was historic, and Epplin captures the personalities of not just the four men at the center of it but also the player-manager Lou Boudreau (who took a chance on Doby in 1948 that would pay dividends), Effa Manley (a rare female team owner in the Negro Leagues who watched her box office takings wither even as her stars thrived in MLB), and many more. But it's the stories of Veeck, Paige, Feller, and especially Doby that resonate, and that Epplin does a great job of rendering in this interesting tale from baseball's postwar era.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    A remarkable book, "Our Team" brings together Bill Veeck (who suffers an amputation), Bob Feller (whom I met in 2008), Satchel Paige (read Larry Tye's bio of Paige!) and Larry Doby. In case you don't know, Mr. Doby twice led the American League in home runs and was the second Negro Leagues ballplayer to integrate Major League Baseball, following hard on the heels of Jackie Robinson. It all adds up to the 1948 World Series Championship by the Cleveland baseball club (then the Indians, now the Gua A remarkable book, "Our Team" brings together Bill Veeck (who suffers an amputation), Bob Feller (whom I met in 2008), Satchel Paige (read Larry Tye's bio of Paige!) and Larry Doby. In case you don't know, Mr. Doby twice led the American League in home runs and was the second Negro Leagues ballplayer to integrate Major League Baseball, following hard on the heels of Jackie Robinson. It all adds up to the 1948 World Series Championship by the Cleveland baseball club (then the Indians, now the Guardians). While Mr. Epplin does a great job weaving together the stories of these men, I am particularly grateful for his detailed bibliography, as I will surely want to read bios dedicated to Veeck and Doby. "Our Team" reminded me how it was when baseball, not football, was the national sport. As MLB gets more tedious, with longer games, "three true outcomes" and no real starting pitchers, I remember when I collected baseball cards, knew the names of all the players in the bigs, and cared deeply about the game. Which reminds me: autographs I need to get: Roger Maris and Larry Doby. I have Bob Feller's autograph. Hell I should get Veeck's and Paige's, too, if I can. Oh, and rest in peace, Denny Galehouse. I know it wasn't really your fault.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eric Dorris

    This is such a fantastic book about the first integrated team in the American League. It’s a great historical look at the Cleveland Indians/Guardians World Series in 1948. If you’re a baseball fan I highly recommend this, even if you’re not a fan of Cleveland.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    Spring has arrived, at least in our minds up in New England, and with it the sounds and hopes generated by a new baseball season which hopefully will not be affected by Covid as it was last year. At the same time, we are experiencing the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, in addition to the tumult that fostered the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement and its continuing relevancy. Based on time of year and the impact of race on the news on a daily basis Luke Epplin’s new book, OUR TE Spring has arrived, at least in our minds up in New England, and with it the sounds and hopes generated by a new baseball season which hopefully will not be affected by Covid as it was last year. At the same time, we are experiencing the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, in addition to the tumult that fostered the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement and its continuing relevancy. Based on time of year and the impact of race on the news on a daily basis Luke Epplin’s new book, OUR TEAM: THE EPIC STORY OF FOUR MEN AND THE WORLD SERIES THAT CHANGED BASEBALL seems like an excellent choice to navigate the role of race in baseball history and its impact on our current view of the sport. Epplin’s focus is on four individuals who greatly impacted baseball history apart from the Cleveland Indians magical run to the pennant in 1948. Playing in the cavernous Municipal Stadium its owner Bill Veeck, part showman, shrewd businessman, and baseball lifer introduced a number of changes as to how owners approached their teams. The second impact individual was Bob Feller, an Iowa farm boy who became one of the best pitchers in baseball history, though by 1948 he was on the downside of his career. The last two individuals Larry Doby and Satchel Paige have a special place in baseball history when it comes to the integration of the sport. By the time Paige arrived in Cleveland he was in his early forties and had played in the Negro League for years. Possibly the best pitcher, black or white since the 1930s Paige would make significant contributions in 1948. The last person Epplin focuses on Larry Doby became the first negro player in the American League. In 1947, Jackie Robinson who was groomed to be the first negro player in baseball by Branch Rickey made his debut. When one thinks of the integration of baseball. Robinson and his experiences dealing with racists in out of the game comes to mind, and few think a great deal about Doby. The young Cleveland outfielder was playing in Newark in the Negro League when he was called up in 1948 and did not undergo the “grooming” process that Robinson had. Despite this handicap, after a slow start, Doby, along with Paige and a few other Indians players are responsible for the amazing 1948 season. Epplin explains how the Cleveland Indians and these four individuals captivated the American people in 1948 as baseball had recovered its fan base and put their best product on the field since before World War II. In addition to the economic impact, these men focused on social issues facing the American people as the country was moving closer to the civil rights revolution. Epplin gives justice to the legends and myths relating to Bob Feller and Satchel Paige dating to their confrontations on the diamond beginning in 1936. The pre-1947 era was dominated by barnstorming players competing with each other during the off season to supplement their salaries which were kept low by owners due to the reserve clause. Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis realized that if negro teams defeated white teams on a regular basis, it would be difficult to justify segregation, so he implemented new rules to limit the barnstorming. He wanted people to see them as exhibitions to prove that negro players were inferior to whites. Despite Landis’ attitude players like Lou Gehrig, Dizzy Dean, and Carl Hubbell all believed that Paige belonged in the major leagues. The author effectively integrates the history of Jim Crow laws, and the overt and covert racism that existed in American society throughout the narrative as he focuses on the role race played in these individual lives in addition to the personal competition between Feller and Paige. The subject of race is key. Paige obviously was one of the best pitchers of his generation, but he never had a chance to exhibit his talent because of baseball’s color barrier enforced by its racist Commissioner Judge Keneshaw Mountain Landis who ruled baseball as a dictator after repairing its image following the 1919 Black Sox scandal. When Bill Veeck tried to buy the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 and Landis learned he would sign negro players he blocked it. When the history of baseball integration is told writers tend to focus on Jackie Robinson and leave out the trials and tribulations highlighted by the demeaning behavior and outright racism suffered by Larry Doby who a year after Robinson broke the color barrier took the field in the American League. Epplin has thoroughly researched his topic and the racist comments by Feller concerning Paige who repeatedly bested him on the mound during the off season are presented clearly and reflect the true character of the Cleveland fireballer. The key figure in integrating the American League and bringing a World Series championship to Cleveland in 1948 was Bill Veeck. Epplin zeroes in on the essence of who Bill Veeck was – his optimism, ingenuity, and ability to convince others of his viewpoints. Ever since I read Ed Linn’s VEECK AS IN WRECK as a boy I have been fascinated by Veeck and his ability to transform baseball franchises be it in Milwaukee, Cleveland, or Chicago. In effect through his desire to sign negro ball players, his promotional creativity, and his willingness to sacrifice his personal life and health Veeck became a sort of “mad scientist” conjuring up new ideas in his baseball laboratory on a regular basis. As Epplin develops his narrative it is interesting as he notes that following World War II part of the reason Veeck signed Paige at the age of forty four was due to the decline of Bob Feller as a pitcher. It was Feller who epitomizes baseball during the era he played. He was baseball’s dominant pitcher in the late 1930s until World War II. Feller was a selfish individual who had difficulty accepting the lost wages because of his four year service in the military. After the war he was hell bent on recouping the money and incorporated himself as RO-FEL Inc. The barnstorming was the key, but his star status meant he had to pitch almost every day, make all arrangements and his commitment to earning as much money as possible and confronting baseball’s hierarchy meant he shortened his career as there are only so many pitches in a person’s arm during the pre-Tommy John surgery era. Feller’s decline and views on race, and his selfishness as viewed by other players detract from his overall reputation as a baseball great. As Epplin correctly points out, “Feller’s swoon, in a sense, facilitated Paige’s rise.” Epplin follows Veeck’s quest to buy the Indians in 1946 in detail. He delves into the roadblocks he faced, his interaction with fans and his promotional ability, and finally deciding to sign Paige and integrate the team with the signing of Larry Doby who after a poor start became one of the dominant sluggers in baseball at that time. Epplin makes the important point that Robinson’s almost immediate success with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 was due to this preparation in the minor leagues for what he was to expect once he stepped on the field as a Dodger. Secondly, Robinson was used to the publicity surrounding his athletic prowess at UCLA, his maturity from serving in the US Army during the war, and the strategy employed by Branch Rickey. On the other hand, Doby, only twenty three, was forced to change positions, had no seasoning in the minors, and was a quiet introverted type who had never been exposed to the type of racism he would confront once Veeck signed him to a contract. Interestingly, according to Epplin, Veeck developed a wonderful relationship with Doby, but Paige and Doby always seemed to be at loggerheads. The book will take the reader through the 1948 season and Cleveland’s ultimate victory in the World Series. Epplin does bring his focus on others aside from his four major characters to reinforce his views, but it is the role of Feller, Paige, Veeck, and Doby and his focus on the Negro Leagues that allows him to develop a narrative that is both interesting and timely as we confront the same type of covert and overt racism today. It is clear that if Veeck had not signed Doby and Paige the Cleveland Indians quest for a pennant and World Series championship would have come up short in 1948. Overall, Epplin has written a fine baseball history of the Cleveland Indians and their quest for a World Series in 1948. However, apart from some interesting ”nuggets” that the author has uncovered, much of what he explores has been presented by other baseball historians which he acknowldges. Despite this minor flaw Epplin writes well and he has produced an interesting read that should satisfy baseball fans of every generations.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard Stuhan

    Luke Epplin’s “Our Team” (Flatiron Books 2021) is an account of the events leading to the Indians’ last World Championship. (I use “last” here to signify not only that it was the most recent, but also that it was the final title under that name.) Baseball purists — particularly Clevelanders of a certain age — will find much of interest about that magical 1948 season. But the book is actually more about the state of race relations in 1940s America than it is about the national pastime. The book j Luke Epplin’s “Our Team” (Flatiron Books 2021) is an account of the events leading to the Indians’ last World Championship. (I use “last” here to signify not only that it was the most recent, but also that it was the final title under that name.) Baseball purists — particularly Clevelanders of a certain age — will find much of interest about that magical 1948 season. But the book is actually more about the state of race relations in 1940s America than it is about the national pastime. The book jacket describes the author as a writer of magazine articles in publications like The New Yorker and Slate. He reportedly was raised in rural Illinois and now lives in Queens. I have done some Internet research and I cannot find anything that connects Epplin with Cleveland — other than the time he spent in the archives of the Cleveland Public Library. So, I am mystified as to what peaked his interest in a Cleveland baseball team that played 70+ years ago. Much has been written already about the 1948 season. What is new In “Our Team” is that Epplin describes the events of that year from the perspectives of four different characters in that drama: Bill Veeck (the team’s owner), Larry Doby (the first African American player in the American League), Satchell Paige (a legendary pitcher in the Negro Leagues who came to the Indians in mid-season), and Bob Feller (the Indians’ Hall of Fame pitcher). The four of them look at the same set of operative facts, but offer wildly divergent interpretations of what occurred. While we now look back on the era before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and conclude that it was the product of abject racism, Epplin suggests that the situation was more nuanced than that. Major League owners, managers, and front offices acknowledged that black players could run, throw, hit, and hit with power. But they were convinced — perhaps because of ingrained beliefs that might be characterized as racist — that they lacked the requisite training to develop the techniques, the coordination, the competitive attitude, and the discipline needed to thrive in the major leagues. Stated otherwise, Major League officials recognized that black athletes had individual skills, but felt that they lacked the “total package” necessary to succeed at the highest levels. Bob Feller — about whom you will hear more later — was a leading proponent of this point of view. In addition, owners feared that a dramatic increase in black spectatorship that would come from adding black players to the roster might dissuade white fans from attending games and thus cause profit margins to plunge. Finally, owners were concerned that their bottom lines would suffer from losing revenue derived from renting their ballparks to Negro League Clubs. It was standard practice in those days for Major League teams to take 20% of gate receipts for Negro League teams using their parks. Although Veeck and Paige get a lot of ink in the book, it is clear that they are supporting characters. Veeck developed a reputation as a maverick owner who was either eccentric or visionary depending on your perspective. He brought to major league games promotions that we all now take for granted — fireworks, music, giveaways. One of the interesting disclosures in the book is that in 1942 — five years before Jackie Robinson’s first season — Veeck had a plan to buy the last place Philadelphia Athletics and replace their woeful war time players en masse with recruits from the Negro Leagues. But the disapproving Commissioner learned of the plan and orchestrated the sale of the team to another buyer. Paige is portrayed as a colorful and charismatic bad boy. Emerging from a home for juvenile delinquents in Louisiana, Satchell (a nick name he acquired from an early job as a porter) became the foremost star of the Negro Leagues. In between seasons, Satchell joined teams of Negro League all stars who traveled the country to play all comers. (As an aside, I note that Satchell’s team once played a game against a team of guys from the steel mill where my father worked, and my father hit a double against him!) Many talent scouts thought that Satchell was the best pitcher in America. But he never made it to the majors until late in his career — when he was just a shadow of his former self. Bob Feller and Larry Doby are the stars of the show, and they are portrayed as polar opposites in their career paths. Feller was the golden boy, recognized for his talents while still in high school and groomed for success. His father did everything possible to promote his baseball career. Without every spending time in the minors, Feller became a major league starter at age 19. He was hailed in the press as a wunderkind — the All American boy from the cornfields of Iowa who became the poster child for Major League Baseball. But Epplin shows another, darker side to our local hero. In Our Team, Feller comes across as a mercenary. Much has been made of the fact that Feller sacrificed some of his most productive years to serve in World War II. But Epplin points out that 60% of all major league players made the same sacrifice. Once he left the service, Feller made up for lost time. He incorporated himself as “Ro-Fel, Inc.” In that capacity, he negotiated the richest contract in baseball history, wrote his autobiography, published a weekly newspaper column, and appeared on a radio show. Beyond that, Feller organized barnstorming tours of Major League players in the off-season. It was not enough for Feller to earn extra income by playing in these tours. Rather, Feller became the tour organizer — recruiting players, scheduling games, and arranging transportation — and thereby generated more income than he earned as a player. Doby, in contrast, was born in South Carolina and raised by his grandmother and (later) aunt when his mother moved to Paterson, New Jersey in search of work. Doby later joined his mother in New Jersey, and it was there that Doby’s baseball talents developed. He won a basketball scholarship to Long Island University, but continued to play baseball. In the summer, he played for the local Negro Leagues team, the Eagles. It was there that Doby was discovered by Indians scouts. Like Feller, Doby made it to the Major Leagues without serving an apprenticeship in the Minors — as Jackie Robinson had done in the Dodgers system. Not surprisingly, he was overwhelmed by the experience, played poorly during his first season, and only rarely got into games. There were multiple occasions on which the Tribe’s brain trust seriously considered sending Doby down. But Veeck — who seemed genuinely committed to racial justice — and Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau stuck with him, and that decision paid dividends in 1948. It is ironic that, while Feller was baseball’s favored child, it was Doby who most contributed to the Indians’ World Series Championship. Feller, in contrast, failed three times in crucial late season games. He lost the last game of the regular season, necessitating a playoff game to determine who would represent the American League in the World Series. He lost the first game of the Series itself. And he got knocked out of what proved to be the deciding game — a game the Indians ultimately won. The baseball world now recognizes Doby for his pioneering work in integrating the game. But Doby wasn’t around long enough to enjoy the accolades. At the time, his life was nothing short of miserable. Many players — including some of his own teammates — refused to have anything to do with him. During games, racial taunts were hurled in his direction by opposing fans and even opposing players. He could not stay in the same hotels or eat in the same restaurants as the white players. While Jackie Robinson’s struggle with racial prejudice has been acknowledged, Doby’s challenges have been largely overlooked. Poignantly, in an interview conducted years after his retirement, Doby observed that it wasn’t as though players and fans heaped abuse on Robinson as the game’s first black players, but gave him a free pass because he was the second. “Our Team” reminds us just how far we have come. The book also is a treat for those of us who call Cleveland home because it recalls the city’s glory days. Back in those days, Cleveland was one of the most populous cities in America — a place of industrial and commercial might. Old Municipal Stadium was by far the largest ball park in the nation. Partly because of the team’s success and partly because of Veeck’s promotions, the Indians set attendance records that stand to this day. So, apart from recounting the 1948 season and its discussion of important civic issues, “Our Team” is a fun ride down memory lane. Richard G Stuhan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    World Series 1948 Four African American baseball players joined the Cleveland Indians and played so well they won the World Series. A blip in time when segregation fell for a short time before rising again before eventually ending. An endearing story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ken Heard

    While much of the focus in the baseball world of 1947 was on Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby was crossing the color barrier in the American League at the same time. Luke Epplin has written an excellent, well-researched book about Doby and the Cleveland Indians as they embarked on their 1948 World Series run. It included some of the more well-known things, like Bob Feller's desire for money and his obsession to promote himself. But Epplin shows plenty of examples to further de While much of the focus in the baseball world of 1947 was on Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby was crossing the color barrier in the American League at the same time. Luke Epplin has written an excellent, well-researched book about Doby and the Cleveland Indians as they embarked on their 1948 World Series run. It included some of the more well-known things, like Bob Feller's desire for money and his obsession to promote himself. But Epplin shows plenty of examples to further develop that. He does include Bill Veeck's attempt to buy the Philadelphia Phillies with the intent of stocking the roster with Negro League players. That's been refuted in other biographies, but Epplin shows more proof of that intent. Finally, I was struck by how sad Doby's season was. He was cheered in the stadium for his exploits, but then not allowed to eat in restaurants or stay in hotels. He spent much of his time alone, all the while leading his team to the American League pennant. Epplin showed that well, and he also wrote of how good Doby was after a rough rookie season. This was one of the better baseball books I've read this year. We all know the story of Jackie Robinson and of Veeck, but Epplin's work expands that in a very enjoyable read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rach

    The fascinating story of the 1948 Cleveland Indians and their journey towards becoming the first integrated team to play in and win the World Series. I really appreciated the in-depth detail the author provided to give context for the segregation and reintegration of baseball, as well as the histories of some of the Negro League teams and the effect integration had on those teams, their owners, and the men who played for them. It was also interesting to see the effect WW2 had on baseball in Amer The fascinating story of the 1948 Cleveland Indians and their journey towards becoming the first integrated team to play in and win the World Series. I really appreciated the in-depth detail the author provided to give context for the segregation and reintegration of baseball, as well as the histories of some of the Negro League teams and the effect integration had on those teams, their owners, and the men who played for them. It was also interesting to see the effect WW2 had on baseball in America and the players (and owners) who chose to go to war or were drafted. Jackie Robinson was a pioneer in Major League Baseball, officially breaking the color barrier in 1947, and he certainly endured a lot, but he has also been remembered and lauded for his role in history. I am a big baseball fan, and until I read this book, I hadn’t even heard of Larry Doby, the second black player in the league, who came up a mere 3 months after Jackie, was the first black player in the American League, endured just as much abuse, with less supportive teammates, and equally if not more talent. That fact that his name is nearly forgotten is a tragedy. “There were times when the burdens, slights, and abuses accumulated to such a degree that Doby would scream out in frustration.” “To play baseball is one thing. To live with the problems you have, knowing you’re not getting equality - it has a tendency to affect your baseball if you’re the kind that’s bothered by it. I was. I had a lot of sleepless nights.” — Larry Doby. What Larry Doby and Satchel Paige had to deal with, both from fans and other teams and even their own teammates, was overwhelming and disgusting. The fact that it took so long to integrate teams, that white people were so sure that black players wouldn’t make the cut in the “majors,” despite all evidence to the contrary, was just baffling. The barnstorming tours that Paige and Feller went on for years, facing one another, was clear evidence that Paige was just as good a pitcher as Feller, if not better, even at the “old” age of 40 (or possibly even older). It seems clear that their delusion was driven by racism and prejudice. Satchel Page deserved to have a long career in the major leagues, but integration came almost too late for him. Sure, he won a World Series ring, but he never seemed to get the respect he deserved from the baseball establishment. Of course, Cleveland never would have integrated, at least not as early as they did, I’d not for the visionary persistence of owner Bill Veeck. This is a man who loved baseball down to his core, who wanted to give fans a truly fun experience at the game, and who wanted to build a team was not just entertaining, but that could also be the best team. It’s crazy to think of all the things he started that are still relevant today - ballpark giveaways, fan appreciation night, creating viral promotions that excited people and made them want to tune in. His passion and drive pushed he so hard he injured his health and ignored family relationships. Honestly, the saddest part for Veeck seemed not when he was getting his foot amputated, but when he was left home alone after finally winning the World Series, knowing his kids didn’t care a thing about baseball, and weren’t proud of him. He had moved his family so far separate from him that they had no connection to his triumphs and tragedies. His team became his family, like Doby who called him a father-figure after his death. Bob Feller was an interesting character as well. Despite his repeated insistence that black players weren’t actually that good, his barnstorming tours allowed the white populace to see a future where black and white players could eventually compete together. Fuller was also a trailblazer in something we see a lot these days — athletes who focus on building their personal brand outside of their official professional sports career. He was the first athlete to create his own corporation, and to build a business around his own success. Interesting enough, the criticism Feller faced from both fans and the media whenever he was doing poorly sounded so similar to that for Russell Wilson, former Seahawks Quarterback. As long as Fuller was winning, fans didn’t mind his millions of business ventures and his promotion of his personal brand. But once he wasn’t winning, those were seem as a distraction from his real job. “Sure he works hard, but it’s for his own brand, not for the team.” It was a little sad to see Fuller never fully succeed in all his goals, but he definitely had a wildly successful career, all things considered. As the World Series journey itself, I enjoyed following its ups and downs, and seeing the way the citizens of Cleveland and the surrounding area came to love and support this team like never before, in part because it reflected their community like never before. It was no longer just the white people’s team, it was everyone’s team. “Our Team.” It was beautiful to see the fans continue to show up and keep hope alive, even as things went back and forth as the season progressed. I know what it’s like to be a diehard fan for a team that always seems to run out of luck right at the end. And when your team always seems to lose when it counts, it can be hard to remain optimistic. “Fans knew from experience not to trust in a club that promised the world in May. The Cleveland fan has been disappointed so often by the Indians that in his moments of wild exaltation, he seems to be waiting apprehensively for the roof to fall in. So they shielded themselves behind jeers, wearing their cynicism on their sleeves.” That could be written about many Mariners fans as well, but we need to do our best to break out of that habit and have electric, optimistic joy. The season isn’t over until it’s over, and players respond to fans having hope in them. 💙 So I will choose to believe that this year is our year, and celebrate all the wins, and not sweat the losses. And thanks to my Ms friend Isaac for this book recommendation!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    This is a story so interesting that you wonder why no one has told it before now. To be fair the genius of Luke Epplin's account is not only that he chronicles the 1948 World Champion Indians, but that he does so through the lens of four crucial people. Each person is so colorful that they have their own biographies and autobiographies, but to see them together is like turning the volume up to 11. Indians' Owner Bill Veeck purchased the club after WW2 and was convinced that baseball had to be en This is a story so interesting that you wonder why no one has told it before now. To be fair the genius of Luke Epplin's account is not only that he chronicles the 1948 World Champion Indians, but that he does so through the lens of four crucial people. Each person is so colorful that they have their own biographies and autobiographies, but to see them together is like turning the volume up to 11. Indians' Owner Bill Veeck purchased the club after WW2 and was convinced that baseball had to be entertaining and creative to drawn audiences. His flare, energy and devotion to the club energized the city. His deep desire to win motivated him to bring on Larry Doby, who became the first Black ballplayer in the American league. Not as patient or calculating as Branch Ricky, Veeck brought Doby straight from the Negro League Newark Eagles to the major leagues. The move meant that unlike Jackie Robinson, Doby did not have a minor league season to prepare himself for the brutal reality of racism in the Major Leagues. Bob Feller was the established star of the Indians but Epplin shows that his story is much more complex than the oft told narrative of being discovered playing in a cornfield in Iowa and making his major league debut at 17. His life story mirrored that of white America in general, going from hardworking farm boy in the depression, to war hero, to baseball entrepreneur in the boom years after the war. The last piece, Satchel Page was the greatest showman of the Negro League. He had made a life jumping from team to team pitching effectively wherever he went including in the barnstorming tours with Bob Feller in the decades before integration. Veeck brought Paige to team in the middle of 1948, the third black player in the majors and a guarantee of instant excitement whenever he came into a game. But the pieces don't even begin to reveal how multifaceted the whole story is. It is much deeper, more complex, more layered and more important than it seems at first. If you are interested in baseball, or race in America, or popular culture immediately after WW2 then I cannot recommend this book enough.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kennedy

    Our Team covers the story of four baseball lifers who’s time together peaks with the 1948 Cleveland Indians winning the 1948 World Series. Bill Veeck is the innovative owner who never came across a promotion he didn’t like. Larry Doby is the man who broke the color barrier in the American League. Bob Feller has been the face of the franchise since arriving as a teenager in the 1930s. Finally, Satchel Paige is the long time Negro League Star who finally gets his shot at the Majors, albeit at the Our Team covers the story of four baseball lifers who’s time together peaks with the 1948 Cleveland Indians winning the 1948 World Series. Bill Veeck is the innovative owner who never came across a promotion he didn’t like. Larry Doby is the man who broke the color barrier in the American League. Bob Feller has been the face of the franchise since arriving as a teenager in the 1930s. Finally, Satchel Paige is the long time Negro League Star who finally gets his shot at the Majors, albeit at the end of his career. Mr. Epplin did an excellent job telling this tale. He started at the begin of each person’s storied career and follows them through the their time with the Indians and then briefly sums up their later years. The stories he put in the book are interesting and he did a good job giving you an idea of who the person was both good and bad. The story of Bob Feller was especially interesting as he actually did a fair amount to help integration with his barn storming tours, but at the same time his interviews at the time very dismissive of the African America players. Overall a very interesting baseball that covers a fascinating time for the league. If you a fan of baseball, integration, or history this book is worth your time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brett Van Gaasbeek

    Excellent storytelling makes this more than just another sports book or historical account of a baseball event or people. Epplin was wise to intertwine the stories of Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, Larry Doby and the legendary Satchel Paige. Baseball fans will love the analysis of the games and players of the 1948 World Series. Clevelanders will love the account of their team and city from the 1940s, post-WWII era. History lovers will forgive the sports discussions for the wonderful breakdowns of the s Excellent storytelling makes this more than just another sports book or historical account of a baseball event or people. Epplin was wise to intertwine the stories of Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, Larry Doby and the legendary Satchel Paige. Baseball fans will love the analysis of the games and players of the 1948 World Series. Clevelanders will love the account of their team and city from the 1940s, post-WWII era. History lovers will forgive the sports discussions for the wonderful breakdowns of the segregationist society and the decisions to break the color barrier in the American League on the heels of Jackie Robinson. This is a solid read for anyone interested in anything remotely related to the topic.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Luke V

    What a great story, one I'm so glad to have learned more about. All 4 of the main subjects (Doby, feller, veeck, Paige) are fascinating in their own rights, and getting a taste of each of their lives and how they come together on this Indians team, makes for an excellent read. I didn't know enough about Doby's role in breaking the color barrier, and Paiges long-overdue opportunity; I learned more about barnstorming, and the Feller-Paige dynamics. And then there was the crazy and visionary Veeck. What a great story, one I'm so glad to have learned more about. All 4 of the main subjects (Doby, feller, veeck, Paige) are fascinating in their own rights, and getting a taste of each of their lives and how they come together on this Indians team, makes for an excellent read. I didn't know enough about Doby's role in breaking the color barrier, and Paiges long-overdue opportunity; I learned more about barnstorming, and the Feller-Paige dynamics. And then there was the crazy and visionary Veeck. So much packed into these pages, and they're nuanced -- for example, Feller is both a white man willing to take the field against black teams, but unable to see the ability of black players to be successful in MLB.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Osborne

    This was a wonderful book. An incredibly wonderful tale about the 1948 Cleveland Indians.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David Barnes

    Very entertaining and interesting book

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andy Grabia

    Baseball rightfully honours Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey for breaking the game’s colour barrier, but the story of Larry Doby, Bill Veeck and Satchel Paige deserves as much recognition. This is a superb book about a team whose importance has too often been ignored

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    This one is for fans of baseball history. Cleveland, 1948. The irrepressible showman Bill Veeck, owner of the Cleveland Indians, relies on his ace (but aging) starter Bob Feller to get the Indians into contention for a pennant. But Veeck also decided in 1947 to break the color barrier in the American League by hiring Black athlete Larry Doby. Finally, Veeck reaches out to add a 42-year-old (maybe, his age is uncertain) Satchel Paige, whose pitches still befuddle hitters. The book is well structure This one is for fans of baseball history. Cleveland, 1948. The irrepressible showman Bill Veeck, owner of the Cleveland Indians, relies on his ace (but aging) starter Bob Feller to get the Indians into contention for a pennant. But Veeck also decided in 1947 to break the color barrier in the American League by hiring Black athlete Larry Doby. Finally, Veeck reaches out to add a 42-year-old (maybe, his age is uncertain) Satchel Paige, whose pitches still befuddle hitters. The book is well structured, providing separate chapters of biography of each man leading up to when they came together on the Indians. The book culminates in a close examination of the games of the 1948 World Series, and how the three players fared. The book especially emphasizes how difficult is was for Doby. Unlike Jackie Robinson who had 18 months in the minors before Branch Rickey called him up to the Dodgers, Veeck yanked Doby directly from the Negro Leagues to the Indians, with little warning for either Doby, the Indians players, or fans. Doby agonized through this time with his treatment by certain other players, fans (especially on away games), and segregation when traveling with the team. Unlike Robinson who received immediate acclaim along with the scorn and soon became a baseball icon, Doby did not receive due recognition for decades. It was a bitter pill to swallow for a man who may have done more than any other single player to propel the Indians to a championship in 1948, and had a long playing career until he retired in 1962. He was not directly elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame but chosen to be inducted in 1998 by the Veterans Committee. Fortunately he received that honor before his death in 2003.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    Very good book on the 1948 Indians, focusing on four key individuals: Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, and Satchel Pagie. The four main figures really come to life, especially Doby with his isolation. One especially interesting bit is on how Doby didn't really like Paige much (he thought Paige's persona was too much of a Stepin Fetchit that just made it harder for other black players). One problem: the book is so reliant on previously published secondary sources, that it's not clear how much Very good book on the 1948 Indians, focusing on four key individuals: Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, and Satchel Pagie. The four main figures really come to life, especially Doby with his isolation. One especially interesting bit is on how Doby didn't really like Paige much (he thought Paige's persona was too much of a Stepin Fetchit that just made it harder for other black players). One problem: the book is so reliant on previously published secondary sources, that it's not clear how much Epplin knows about the figures he's talking about. One example: He has a chapter on how Veeck planned to purchase the Phillies during WWII and stock them with Negro League stars. Epplin notes that scholars have since questioned this tale, but that Veeck always maintained it was true. OK, but the main article debunking this tale didn't come out until a decade after Veeck died, so I'm not sure why his Epplin makes it sound like Veeck denied the debunkers. (To be fair, Epplin does note the article in his endnotes, and he does use some occassional primary sources, but his handling of that issue really bugged me. Still, overall it does a good job weaving the previous tales together into one fine narrative. One thing: the 1948 season covers only the last third of the book. This is not a criticism. Just thought I should note it. He does a good job covering the life stories of Doby, Feller, Veeck, and Paige in the first two-thirds so we see how they all ended up together when they did.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Loved this book I learned so much about my adopted hometown and our ball club. What a fantastic and astonishingly well researched history. While Jackie Robinson may be better known, Luke Epplin helps the reader understand what Satchel Paige and Larry Doby contributed to the long struggle to overcome structural racism. And he presents nuanced and complex portraits of both them and Indians owner Bill Veeck and all star Bob Feller.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joann

    Anyone who enjoys baseball will want to read this well researched account of the 1948 season for the Cleveland Indians. Parts of it were very hard to read, the cruel racism which was so much a part of the scene then. It is hard to imagine the isolation of players like Larry Doby, Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige and the courage it took for them to pursue their dreams.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Four men, inextricably linked. Two white, two Black. Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck and Larry Doby. All of them could be said to be pioneers, and each had his own triumphs and disappointments. Bob Feller, signed by the Cleveland Indians, was a “phee-nom,” as they used to say. This teenage farm boy from the heartland of America (Van Meter, Iowa) had a fastball that made grown men beg out of the lineup. Realizing his value --- as well as the short lifespan of an athlete, especially having lo Four men, inextricably linked. Two white, two Black. Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck and Larry Doby. All of them could be said to be pioneers, and each had his own triumphs and disappointments. Bob Feller, signed by the Cleveland Indians, was a “phee-nom,” as they used to say. This teenage farm boy from the heartland of America (Van Meter, Iowa) had a fastball that made grown men beg out of the lineup. Realizing his value --- as well as the short lifespan of an athlete, especially having lost some prime years to World War II --- he was the first to incorporate himself. He sought endorsement opportunities and produced barnstorming trips, gathering a collection of major leaguers who would travel around the country after the end of the season, giving many fans the only opportunity to see them in person. Feller’s troupe would take on local teams, but the real story was their engagements with players from the Negro Leagues in the years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. It was on these trips that Feller would encourage mano-a-mano duels with Satchel Paige, a beanpole of a pitcher whose speed rivaled Feller’s (Paige also had exceptional control, which Feller did not). These games often showed that players from the Negro Leagues were just as good, if not often better, than their big league counterparts, with Paige up front and center in all of this. Bill Veeck was the P.T. Barnum of baseball. The game was in his blood. His father had been an executive with the Chicago Cubs, and as soon as he was able, he bought himself a team, which turned out to be the Indians after a couple of false starts elsewhere. Veeck was a maverick, bucking tradition with his plans to bring people out to the ballpark, but with the ultimate goal of winning a pennant. That included looking for talent where no one else would (except for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson to a professional contract in 1946). He made Larry Doby, who had been a star with the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues, the second African American in the Majors. Despite their renown, Paige and Doby had to deal with the discrimination of their time, the Jim Crow laws of the Deep South, and the attitudes of white teammates, media and fans who perceived Black players as somehow deficient in what it took to be in the Majors. Doby, more than a decade younger than Paige, was more introspective and introverted, while the older man had developed a thicker skin and knew how to “go along to get along.” Like Feller, he was always on the lookout for a bigger paycheck, willing to break contracts and jump from team to team for that larger payday. Ably researched and entertainingly presented by Luke Epplin, OUR TEAM is a painstaking look at the difficulties in the lives of all these men --- Feller’s “lost years,” Veeck’s leg amputation following his own military service, and Paige and Doby trying to make inroads in a sport that did not want “their kind.” But as they worked together for a common goal, many of these differences were set aside. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dave Allen

    Really enjoyed this. Colorful, propulsive sports history, plus really essential context on Negro League baseball and civil rights progress - the fight for civil rights was not strictly a 50s and 60s thing! Love the renderings of Satchel Paige's mystique and humor. Feel like Lou Boudreau is almost as essential to this as Feller and Veeck, in a way - will have to see if there's a bio on him, or seek out the other history of the '48 team that LE mentions in the acknowledgements. Shout out to my dad Really enjoyed this. Colorful, propulsive sports history, plus really essential context on Negro League baseball and civil rights progress - the fight for civil rights was not strictly a 50s and 60s thing! Love the renderings of Satchel Paige's mystique and humor. Feel like Lou Boudreau is almost as essential to this as Feller and Veeck, in a way - will have to see if there's a bio on him, or seek out the other history of the '48 team that LE mentions in the acknowledgements. Shout out to my dad, born in Cleveland in 1946. Too young to remember this championship, hasn't seen another since (although he says he remembers Marion Motley and Bill Willis, who get a mention as pioneering Black players for the Browns).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Spiros

    As a rule, I fight shy of books with titles which include phrases such as "the blah-blah-blah that changed Baseball", because. outside of 1901, 1920, 1947, 1962, and 1975, very few years or events have actually changed Baseball. And yet, wave an account of Satchel Paige and Bill Veeck in front of my nose, and I'll jump at the bait. All in all, despite the ridiculous subtitle, this is a very workmanlike account of an extraordinary team, focusing on four men: Bob Feller, perhaps the first Major Lea As a rule, I fight shy of books with titles which include phrases such as "the blah-blah-blah that changed Baseball", because. outside of 1901, 1920, 1947, 1962, and 1975, very few years or events have actually changed Baseball. And yet, wave an account of Satchel Paige and Bill Veeck in front of my nose, and I'll jump at the bait. All in all, despite the ridiculous subtitle, this is a very workmanlike account of an extraordinary team, focusing on four men: Bob Feller, perhaps the first Major League player who managed to curate his own image (you could argue that Christy Mathewson beat him to it); Bill Veeck, the maverick Baseball and promotional genius; Larry Doby, the man called upon to break the color-line in the American League; and Satchel Paige, the master showman of the Negro Leagues. All four men come across as deeply sympathetic, but Veeck and Paige are such outsized characters that they dominate the narrative. Authors are not always in control of the titles of their books, but I'm not sure in what way the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians beating the Boston Braves in five games "changed Baseball". Veeck had to sell the team after the 1949 season to pay for his divorce, Paige pitched sparingly in 1949, Feller was on the downside of his career, and Doby remained the only Black American League All-Star for the following decade, while the National League could have fielded a line-up of Black All-Stars. But it's still a pretty good yarn.

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