Books by Frazier ``Slow'' Robinson

Released: April 1, 1999

A behind-the-plate memoir by a catcher from the Negro Leagues' glory years. Perhaps Robinson (who died in 1997) was nicknamed "Slow" for lumbering around the bases, but his memories and observations are quick and lively, capturing a homey slice of African-American history. Co-author Bauer, a baseball book antiquarian, allows the Oklahoma native to speak with local color. Back in 1940, when Robinson made $325 a month with the Kansas City Monarchs, he recalls a trash-talking opposing batter in friendly terms: "He—d jive to you and we—d jive at him. You might be mad that he got you [homered off your pitcher], but you couldn—t be mad at him." This laid-back spirit suffuses the book's best portions. In a haphazard baseball world where team rosters were a matter of which stars were barnstorming where, some impromptu games pitted a Negro League team against a colorful white bunch of Gospel fundamentalists like the Israelite House of David, whose players sported waist-long hair and shaggy beards. When games with the New York Cubans brought him to New York, Robinson visited the Apollo Theater or hung with Red Foxx and Count Basie, but off-field life's most memorable episodes involved cruising country roads with Satchel Paige, who could barely drive his Chrysler and once wouldn—t pitch because he had 52 traffic violations and —was afraid he—d be arrested on the mound.— Robinson also caught for other greats, like Leon Day and John Markham. Jackie Robinson's breakthrough changed all their lives for the better but meant the end of the Negro Leagues. The fan gets a rare glimpse at some Negro League players, like Larry Doby, before they crossed over, and at many stars who would have had Hall of Fame careers if they—d had the chance. Authentic Americana, with enough balls, strikes, players, and pennant chases to keep the hardcore fans happy. (30 b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >