Day: January 29, 2010

Willie Mays and America’s Oldest Professional Baseball Park

Growing up, I was such a Willie Mays fan that my friends called me “Say Hey” in honor of the Say Hey Kid.  In those pre-Internet days it was tough to live in Tennessee and keep up with late-night baseball in San Francisco.  However, many was the summer morning I called the sports department of the Daily News Journal to ask for the previous evening’s scores off the wire.  This was serious business.  Many years and games later, I still believe Mays was the best, most complete ballplayer to play the game. So I was thrilled recently to see the new book Willie’s Boys:  The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend by John Klima.  The title tells what’s in store.  This is a book about the difficult period when major league baseball was undergoing integration and Birmingham – that hotbed of both baseball and racial segregation – was at the center of the story.  In 1948, Mays was a 16-year-old rookie on the Black …