Magazine March 23, 2020, Issue

Oscar Charleston: Baseball History’s Invisible Man

From the cover of Oscar Charleston (University of Nebraska Press)
Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player, by Jeremy Beer (University of Nebraska Press, 456 pp., $29.95)

Negro League baseball embarrasses the average fan who fancies himself a student of the national pastime. We may know Major League Baseball well enough. It provides most of the material for the lore that sportswriters have been shaping since Reconstruction and that we tend to think of as the history of baseball proper. Out of the corner of our eye we see the tangle of teams, players, and traditions sprawling outside the foul lines of MLB. We dread the work we would need to do to comprehend the bigger picture, so we exclude from our mental map of the game

This article appears as “Baseball History’s Invisible Man” in the March 23, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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