Posts Tagged ‘Lester Rodney’

Press Box Red: A Review

March 22, 2018

Press Box Red cover

Time to leave the world of 1908 and move to something more modern. I haven’t done a book review in a while so it’s time to fix that. This time I want to look at a book titled Press Box Red by Irwin Silber.

Silber tells, in this work, the story of Lester Rodney, an American Communist who became influential in the sports world. Rodney became the sports editor, and generally the only member of the sports department, of The Daily Worker, the Communist Party of the United States newspaper. During the 1930s and 1940s he used the sports page of the paper to campaign for equal rights in the country. He was a stalwart supporter of Joe Lewis and one of the most ardent voices for the integration of baseball.

The book is very much a polemic as much as a history or biography. You know where Silber stands on the issues in which Rodney is embroiled. It is, having said that, still a worthwhile read because it reminds us that Branch Rickey wasn’t the only person desirous of integrating the Major Leagues. There were a number of voices raised arguing that it was time to make “The National Game” truly national. Silber also reminds the reader that several of those voices were white, rather than black. Beginning as early as 1936, Rodney wrote repeated articles arguing for the integration of baseball as “the right thing to do.”

The book is an interesting look at the role the Communist Party played in American society before the McCarthy Era, as well as a solid look at the sports world of the 1930s and 1940s. Interest in either the era or the integration of baseball makes this book a worthwhile addition to your sports reading. It is available from Amazon for $28.95. I got my copy for less at a used book store.