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1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever
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1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  242 ratings  ·  60 reviews
1954: Perhaps no single baseball season has so profoundly changed the game forever. In that year—the same in which the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, that segregation of the races be outlawed in America's public schools—Larry Doby's Indians won an American League record 111 games, dethroned the five-straight World Series ch ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Da Capo Press (first published April 23rd 2014)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Bill Madden doesn't really complete his premise that 1954 was a radical year in the development of baseball. Rather than being a radical year of change akin to 1947 or even 1969, 1954 is a year with fairly standard pennant races and a brief interruption in the Yankees juggernaut of the late 40s to late 50s. Madden claims that this is the year that the first wave of true African American stars emerged and I can give him that point but he focuses almost exclusively on the New York Giants and to a ...more
Susan Lulgjuraj
Bill Madden’s 1954 intrigued me based on the tag on front of the book: “The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever.”

Yep, immediately hooked. It was still a year away from Elston Howard making his Yankees debut – as the Yankees were one of the least teams to integrate, but there was information included on Howard, which I found compelling. There were good tidbits on players here and there with Madden having an occasionally insightful qu
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking to revisit an interesting season
Shelves: arc, beisbol
A nice recap of the '54 season, purporting to show the expanding influence of players transitioning from the Negro Leagues into the Major Leagues; somewhere along the line, that theme got lost in what becomes just a pedestrian overview of an interesting, but not a watershed, season. Madden demonstrates a fondness for unmoored clauses and prepositional phrases which can be, well, maddening.
victor harris
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
Despite Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947, only half of the sixteen major league teams had a black player on their roster when spring training commenced in 1954. However the growing tide of talent signed from the waning Negro Leagues and being nurtured in the minor league system would eventually cause sweeping changes in the composition of major league rosters. With preternaturally gifted stars such as Mays and Aaron already making their presence felt, even teams with serious r ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I thought I'd like it. I'm a sucked for baseball books. But it was too much fact and not enough story. The book leaves the impression that the author is a baseball beat writer and his research for the book consisted of reading old baseball columns from the year and his writing of the book consisted of writing a super-long baseball column.

Notwithstanding that '54 was a hell of a year, this book didn't quite capture it for me.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
For my 60th birthday, I got the most appropriate book, given my birth year and my passion for baseball. The first games I saw featured Willie Mays and it was a thrill. Madden's book chronicles one of the most, if not the most, remarkable year for the sport. The emergence of African-American stars following Jackie Robinson's breakthrough set the stage for fabulous achievements for teams and individuals.

Madden tells the story extremely well. Loved reading this.
Charles M.
1954 was the first season many of the first wave of black ballplayers hit stardom, including Willie mays, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, Latty Doby, was also the first season in which black ballplayers (eight) played against each other in a World Series. This very entertaining book focuses on this very significant season through the eyes of these players and others in recalling what MLB was like 60 years ago; unveiling one of the greatest World Series upsets in history as well!
Casey Nichols
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not just because I was born this year and my Giants won the World Series, but this is a fascinating book. The impact of Mays and other black stars in place and rising makes for an important glimpse into the changing social fabric of America. Madden infuses the book with details and anecdotes. If you live baseball OR history- read it.
Michael Barker
Great book about one of my favorite teams the 1954 World Champion New York Giants.
This was the Golden Age of baseball in NYC. The Yankee's actually won more games for Casey Stengal than they ever would in a regular season but came in second to the Cleveland Indians. The Giants defeated their nemesis from Brooklyn led by the great Willie Mays and the pitching of Rochester's own Johnny Antonelli.
Dan Lalande
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Persuasive argument that the integrational big bang of 1947, Jackie Robinson's debut, had a sizeable echo: 1954, when enough black players (Mays, Aaron, Banks, Campanella, Doby, Newcombe, Irvin) rose to prominence to constitute a generation. While the political hook is well-served, Madden's heart is in recreating the thrilling pennant races (mostly NY based) of that memorable year.
Mike Manor
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A segment of American that struggled to integrate but bring on Willie Mays, Larry Doby, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and all the others. They showed American what baseball had been missing.

And bring on the 2014 World Series.
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what made this book special for me was learning of the admiration that deep South native Alvin Dark had for Willie Mays and the way Willie felt about him, with Willie saying that he learned more about baseball from Alvin Dark than anyone else including Leo Durocher.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, read-in-2014
Enjoyable read. Learned quite a bit about the teams and 1954 season.

Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Presents an interesting history of 1954 in Major League Baseball. Anyone interested in baseball or the Cleveland Indians will enjoy this book.
Alvin C.
If you're a baseball fan, or an old history buff like myself, this is a must read. By Bill Madden, who has covered the sport for more than 30 years for the New York Daily News.
Bruce Crawford
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable read. Fascinating to learn so much about baseball, race relations in 1954, and the emergence of so many black superstar ballplayers around that time. Wonderful read!
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you want to know why the NL won so many All Star games in a row, the answer is in this book. Thanks Yankees?!?
Anthony Hickok
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, an African-American infielder from Georgia. This officially broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. However, this didn’t mean every MLB team went out clambering for a black prospect. In fact, it wasn’t until 1958 that all pre-playoff era teams had an African-American in their lineup.
1954:The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever chronicles the events that shaped modern-d
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, read-2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrick Barry
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice light sports read about the 1954 baseball season and the rise of the first group of post-integration black Hall of Famers. It follows the 1954 New York Giants, a team with a mixture of black stars and white stars from the Deep South. The team was just that - a team despite the differences in background. It also follows other black stars as they break into the league, Hank Aaron, Larry Doby, Al Smith, Minnie Minosa to name a few. One of the lessons outlined in the book is how the American ...more
Will Plunkett
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
For a book about a number (calendar year), I'd have like to have a recap of the numbers (records, statistics) included at the end; but I suppose the author's point was the impact of 1954 went beyond mere digits. I liked the style of a baseball season: spend most of the book covering the teams' successes and struggles, then end with the playoff (ONLY the World Series, not 4 rounds of games).
Anthony Thompson
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Not a bad summary of early 50's baseball but ultimately pretty dry and depth-less
Richard Guerrero
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
My favorite sport, lots of history in this game. Good to see some behind the scenes in the game back then. Could never imagine how hard it had to be. Special men. Can’t say enough about Willie Mays.
patrick Lorelli
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
This is a good book on the changes of baseball. So much was happening this year that after I finished this book you can really see why the teams that did not integrate were not going to be winners for many years to come. The teams that did and had players in the minors as well as on the major league roster. The book starts off with the Yankees winners of the 53 series. They would not win another one for a couple of years. It also goes into depth of how the Yankees traded away Vic Power to the Ph ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a reader who enjoys books on significant times and events in a particular sport’s history, this book had me very interested. The full title says it best about the year 1954 and the significance it had in baseball history. This book not only looks into the topic of race during this year in Major League Baseball but it also recaps the seasons of the three New York teams and the Cleveland Indians.

In that sense of these topics, author Bill Madden does a decent job of taking the reader back to th
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting review of the season in which the Yankees lost the pennant, but New York still was home to the World Series winner. The Cleveland Indians won a league record 111 games, the Yankees won 103,which was more than they had won in any of their championship seasons from 1949-1953. However, the Indians were swept in the Series by the New York Giants led by Willie Mays iconic catch and Dusty Rhodes storybook hitting.
Madden expands the significance of that season. He explains that 1954 was a w
Tim Basuino
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I picked up this book at a discount – I always enjoy season compendiums, and this would be the last season the Giants would win it all for over a half century. It was also in the middle of what a lot of today’s people think of as baseball’s golden age (even though many, such as the legendary Bill James, point out that it was essentially the opposite).

Baseball’s color line had been broken with Jackie Robinson’s debut in 1947, a fact that Madden refers to many times throughout the book. African Am
Anup Sinha
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
As a sentimental baseball fan and historian, I enjoyed reading this book and understanding the times of 1954. I do not believe it lived up to its own billing, claiming that 1954 was a turning point in baseball history or in racial relations. It was more of a day-to-day diary or account, with some good background and coloring info on the characters. Some of the research is faulty, little stuff that only a few would notice. There was no mention or tie-in to the civil rights movement that was about ...more
Tom Gase
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
A pretty good book on the 1954 baseball season. I wanted to give this book three stars but in the end I went with four. The second half of this book was really good, great details about games leading up to the World Series and then good info on the World Series itself.
The first half of the book though I couldn't get into as much. Took me awhile to get used to the author, Bill Madden, who tends to write very loooooooonng sentences that are run-on sentences. Dude, just break them up into three se
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, sports
I purchased this book because I wanted to learn about what the world was like the year I was born, as seen through the lens of baseball. And, I was not disappointed. This is a book about the entry of black players into the game, their struggles, and the gains and missed opportunities that various teams and their owners experienced as a result of policies -- formal and informal -- regarding black players. While Jackie Robinson may have broken the color line in 1948, baseball was a long way from w ...more
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