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 from benchwarmer to superstar sparked one of the wildest and most meaningful seasons in baseball history.
In intimate, absorbing detail, Luke Epplin's 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.
“If you love baseball, Our Team is a three-run walk-off homer in Game 7 of the World Series. And if you care about justice, Epplin’s book is a crucial lesson in the fight for civil rights in post-World War II Cleveland.”—Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator from Ohio and author of Desk 88
“From sandlots to stadiums, Luke Epplin generously offers up the best seat in the stands to revisit when both America and its greatest pastime were changing. Even as the color line impacted the best Black players’ access and opportunities, Our Team is a riveting reminder of the unifying power of sports—and the compelling men who sought to change America one game at a time.”—Caseen Gaines, author of Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way
“One of the most entertaining and important baseball books to come out in years. Our Team’s Cleveland Indians of 1948 finally get the respect, the insight—the historical attention—they deserve. Think you know about baseball’s integration years? On the heels of Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough came another team beset with perhaps even more challenges and half the publicity. Luke Epplin brings all the drama, the strife, the unity and the ultimate triumph to you—with the flair of a Satchel Paige windup, the power of a Larry Doby swing, and the panache of a Bill Veeck promotion!”—Laurie Gwen Shapiro
There had seemingly never been a better night for baseball in Cleveland than on August 20, 1948. The hometown Indians, a hard-luck franchise that hadn’t sniffed the postseason in more than a quarter-century, sat atop...