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The Kings of Casino Park, The Kings of Casino Park, 0817317422, 0-8173-1742-2, 978-0-8173-1742-3, 9780817317423, , , The Kings of Casino Park, 0817385681, 0-8173-8568-1, 978-0-8173-8568-2, 9780817385682,

The Kings of Casino Park
Black Baseball in the Lost Season of 1932
Thomas Aiello

Trade Cloth
2011. 264 pp.
23 illustrations / 8 tables
978-0-8173-1742-3
Price:  $39.95 s
E Book
2011. 256 pp.
978-0-8173-8568-2
Price:  $39.95 d

In the 1930s, Monroe, Louisiana, was a town of twenty-six thousand in the northeastern corner of the state, an area described by the New Orleans Item as the “lynch law center of Louisiana.” race relations were bad, and the Depression was pitiless for most, especially for the working class—a great many of whom had no work at all or seasonal work at best. Yet for a few years in the early 1930s, this unlikely spot was home to the Monarchs, a national-caliber Negro League baseball team. Crowds of black and white fans eagerly filled their segregated grandstand seats to see the players who would become the only World Series team Louisiana would ever generate, and the first from the American South.
 
By 1932, the team had as good a claim to the national baseball championship of black America as any other. Partisans claim, with merit, that league officials awarded the National Championship to the Chicago American Giants in flagrant violation of the league’s own rules: times were hard and more people would pay to see a Chicago team than an outfit from the Louisiana back country. Black newspapers in the South rallied to support Monroe’s cause, railing against the league and the bias of black newspapers in the North, but the decision, unfair though it may have been, was also the only financially feasible option for the league’s besieged leadership, who were struggling to maintain a black baseball league in the midst of the Great Depression.
 
Aiello addresses long-held misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Monarchs’ 1932 season. He tells the almost-unknown story of the team—its time, its fortunes, its hometown—and positions black baseball in the context of American racial discrimination. He illuminates the culture-changing power of a baseball team and the importance of sport in cultural and social history.

 


Thomas Aiello is an assistant professor of history at Valdosta State University in Georgia and the author of Bayou Classic: The Grambling-Southern Football Rivalry.

 


"The Monroe (Louisiana) Monarchs, a team in the Negro Southern League, are the stars of this book. Aiello (history, Valdosta State Univ.) uses the Monarchs to create an engrossing narrative that includes race relations, the advocacy of black newspapers, the economic struggles of black professional baseball, and controversies surrounding records and championships in the Negro baseball leagues. The author sheds much-needed light on the Negro Southern League as well as on the Monarchs, which faced the more-famous Pittsburgh Crawfords in the 1932 Negro World Series. More important, Aiello assesses the Monarchs' deep significance to Monroe's black citizens. As the author shows, the Monarchs were a source of pride to black people during a time when they faced lynchings and other forms of racial discrimination and a natural disaster (the 1932 flood). Treating issues both inside and outside the sports world, this book is a fine addition to the growing scholarship on black professional baseball. Summing up: Recommended. All readers."
—CHOICE

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“An excellent study of black baseball and history, [The Kings of Casino Park] covers a lot of unknown history about the Negro Southern Leagues in the post-Depression era and their interactions with southern residents before the civil rights movement.” —Larry Lester, author of Black Baseball’s National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 1933-1953

“Over the last three or four decades there have been a number of books published chronicalling various teams, players, and owners in the so-called Negro Leagues. Most . . . focus on organizations from the East Coast or the Midwest . . . [but] Thomas Aiello provides a welcome snapshot of a team from Louisiana in the early 1930s and its rise to prominence under very difficult circumstances. Aiello’s work is about an African American baseball team, the Monroe Monarchs, but it is also about how that team moderated racial strife in a small southern city in the depths of the Great Depression. Sports historians and enthusiasts should find this book of interest.”—The Journal of Southern History


First Honorable Mention for 2011 given by the Louisiana Library Association Literary Award Committee

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