Beyond the Shadow of the Senators
the untold story of the Homestead Grays and the integration of baseball
The enthralling true story of the greatest baseball team ever forgotten In a time when the country was divided into black and white, our soldier boys battled against the evils in Europe, and war-weary Americans gathered around green fields to forget their troubles in the joys of our national pastime, the greatest baseball dynasty you've probably never heard of electrified the game and set an unstoppable revolution in motion. So begins the fascinating and often surprising story of the Homestead Grays, the Negro League's most successful franchise, and how the fight to integrate baseball began not in Brooklyn with Jackie Robinson but in our nation's capital. During the first half of the twentieth century, Washington, D.C., was a segregated Southern town. Black and white Washingtonians lived in separate worlds--until those worlds collided at Griffith Stadium. Standing in the heart of a thriving black district, the park played host to the white Washington Senators and, when the Senators were out of town, the Homestead Grays. There, the best team in the Negro Leagues reigned victorious on the same field where one of the worst teams in the all-white majors struck out again and again. Although white fans never caught on, tens of thousands of loyal black fans flocked to watch the great Grays. On those sun-bright stadium afternoons, the wall of segregation fell away; the fans sat wherever they wanted--and, together with their number-one team and a host of heroes, they transformed our nation's capital into the front lines of the campaign to integrate major-league baseball. In this transcendent account, the author gracefully unfolds the true story behind this bold adventure, taking you back to those front lines, where intriguing characters such as journalists Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith fought doggedly for integration; the Negro Leagues' most celebrated sluggers, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard, gave the major-league superstars a run for their money; and club owner Clark Griffith, mired in prejudice and greed, thwarted integration at every turn. Through numerous interviews with key players (many now deceased), a treasure trove of archival material, and dozens of unpublished historical photos, the author masterfully pieces together the lost legend of how the fight to integrate baseball really began, bearing witness at last to the greatest legends of black baseball and opening the book on a forgotten chapter in American history. "This is the story of the lost era between the Babe and Jackie, of a crusading journalist named Sam Lacy, an immensely talented black ballplayer named Buck Leonard, and a stubborn major league owner named Clark Griffith. It's the story of why the fight to integrate major league baseball began in Washington and not in Brooklyn, why black Washington ultimately lost the fight, and why the Senators were not the first team to integrate. And it's the story of the greatest baseball dynasty that most people have never heard of, the Homestead Grays, whose wartime popularity at Griffith Stadium moved them beyond the shadow of the Senators." --from the Introduction So begins this powerful and passionate account of how the fight to integrate baseball really began. Moving seamlessly between the heroic exploits of the ballfield and the exploitation of the boardroom, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators reveals all the magic and madness that surrounded the legendary Homestead Grays and their lesser--but more recognized--stadium-mates, the Washington Senators. Drawing on extensive interviews with key players, long-lost archives, and dozens of dazzling historical photos, the author meticulously chronicles the true story behind this forgotten chapter in the annals of baseball, painting a portrait of larger-than-life characters and lazy, golden afternoons you'll wish you could remember--when the Homestead Grays dominated Griffith Stadium and gave baseball's white superstars a run for their money.