The End of Baseball by Peter Schilling Jr.

The End of Baseball
Peter Schilling Jr.
Ivan R. Dee (2010)
ISBN 978-1-56663-848-7
Reviewed by Charline Ratcliff for RebeccasReads.com (06/10)

 

A few weeks ago I was in northern California talking to a close friend of mine who
happens to be an Oakland A’s fan. I remember mentioning to him that I had decided to
read and review “The End of Baseball.” He gave me a blank look until I explained the
book’s premise: a fictional novel about baseball starring Bill Veeck, the Philadelphia
Athletics and an all black team set in the early forties. My friend sort of chuckled before
asking if Eddie Gaedel was going to be in the story as well. Of course I had no idea who
he was talking about and this prompted a Google search.

Learning about Gaedel caused me to do some serious research on Veeck. I have to give
major props to Peter Schilling Jr., the book’s author. Who better to fill the sizeable shoes
of the maverick promoter in “The End of Baseball” than Bill Veeck; the very man who
was probably best known throughout the league for his flamboyant publicity stunts and
the innovations he brought to baseball during his ownership of the St. Louis Browns,
Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. I don’t think the Schilling could have chosen
a more suitable person than Veeck to help give this novel an authentic and realistic feel.

Continuing with the storyline; Veeck returns from Guadalcanal with a missing leg and
five hundred dollars to his name. He manages to purchase the Philadelphia Athletics and
gets rid of all the white players. In 1944 that was the entire roster. Unbeknownst to
anyone except his business partner, Sam Dailey, Veeck secretly recruits the legendary
stars of the Negro Leagues and signs them to play in the majors. In an era of war and
racial segregation Veeck gambles everything on the hope that people’s love of seeing
great baseball will overcome the integration of a black man into the major leagues.

In summary, I must say that “The End of Baseball” was a joy to read. I definitely
prolonged it for as long as possible. Over the years I have read my fair share of baseball
novels but in my opinion none of them can hold a candle to this one. Schilling has a
fantastic writing style. His words flow smoothly. His descriptions will make the reader
feel as if he or she is actually in the dugout watching baseball greats like Satchel Paige,
Buck Leonard or Josh Gibson in person rather than reading about them in a book. While
“The End of Baseball” is a work of fiction the author has done such a fantastic job that, at
times, his readers may have trouble separating fact from fiction.

A definite “must read” for anyone who loves a great book…

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