What a great concept for a book. I have to admit I was a bit concern about how this book might get laid out but author Lawrence Baldassaro hit the jackpot with this one.
He went back into history, by the decade a player came into the major leagues, and interview them about their views on baseball and how being of Italian descent came into play during their youth and into the major leagues. He interviewed over 40 players, managers, front office personnel and a few general managers to become the face of this book.
He began in the 1930’s with Frank Crosetti and he told of how living in the United States and being Italian wasn’t always a nice thing. He and other Italian kids thought nothing about being called “wop” or other unflattering names. He mentioned he just put his head down and played baseball all the while meeting great people on his way to the top with many of them of other heritages that got the same treatment.
He talked to Yogi Berra and he was full of stories that are not so nice and others that are amazed at what they did and had to do in order to play baseball. Tommy Lasorda, Ken Aspromonte, and Joey Amalfitano go into some detail about the realization of the 1950’s and being a minority among many but not to the depth of the black players.
Ron Santo was interesting as he felt that even until his death that part of the reason he wasn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame was being of Italian descent. He overcame obstacles every day as he battled fatigue due to being serely diabetic. He never understood it.
Later in the book, we hear how things began to change from Bobby Valentine, Sal Bando, and Joe Girardi that their heritage was never under question as baseball had become a melting pot of many players from numerous areas of the world.
You don’t need to be Italian to like this book. It gives a deeper understand and appreciation for how players had dreams and the fortitude it took to become highly accomplished baseball players. Every bookshelf needs this book.
I would like to thank Skyhorse Publications for the book in exchange for a fair and honest book review.