Seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line, 1954 was a triumphant watershed season for black players, and, in a larger sense, for baseball and the country as a whole. In this study group, we will discuss the impacts of this pivotal time. While Larry Doby was the dominant player in the American League, Willie Mays emerged as the preeminent player in the National League. With a flair and boyish innocence that all fans, black and white, quickly came to embrace. Mays was almost instantly beloved in 1954. Much of that due to how seemingly easy it was for him to live up to the effusive buildup from his Giants manager, Leo Durocher, a man more widely known for his ferocious "nice guys finish last" attitude. We will discuss award-winning New York Times
bestselling author Bill Madden's first major book to fully examine the 1954 baseball season. This book is drawn largely from exclusive recent interviews with the major players themselves, including Mays and Doby. 1954
(De Capo Press, 2014) will transport us across the baseball landscape of the time—from the spring training camps in Florida and Arizona to baseball cities including New York, Baltimore, Chicago, and Cleveland, as future superstars such as Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and others entered the leagues and continued to integrate the sport.