This Wednesday February 17, 2021, check out Al Strane on the podcast “Thing My Mother Never Told Me,” on Facebook Live at 6:30 p.m.
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The Jersey, is an adaptation of an actual event that took place in 1879 when William White–a slave born in Milner, Georgia who was attending Brown University–attended a Major League baseball game (in his junior year) in Providence Rhode Island between the Providence Grays and The Cleveland Blues. Just prior to the start of that game, the first baseman for the Providence Grays broke his ankle; and they were left without a first baseman to position in the field. The team manager noticed in the bleachers a young man whom he recognized had played first baseman for the recently crowned national championship Brown University Baseball team. He quickly ushered him down onto the field and signed him to a one day contract to play that day. That day William White, from a genealogy perspective, became the first Slave and first mixed race person to play in Major League Baseball. In my story line after William Edward White plays in the game on June 21, 1879 I begin to spin a fictional story line. In which the two central characters partner together to take on the power structure of MLB’s, monopoly and eventually establish their own professional base ball league.
The Jersey brings a new dimension to what it means to be an African-American “first.” It draws us into the history of passing that many African Americans considered a necessary survival strategy or a viable path to success in a racist America and acknowledges the racial triumphs obscured by this phenomenon. Although the novel unveils troubling aspects of our culture, it also presents a story of a budding romance and of female solidarity in the male-dominated world of professional sports. Strane presents us with an enlightening and ultimately heart-warming read. — Barbara J. Wilcots, Ph.D. Vice President, Students Affairs Regis University Denver, Colorado.
The Jersey, the impressive debut novel by author Alvin Strane, is an addictive page-turning romp bridging baseball’s early origins with the corporate drama of today’s national pastime. Toss in the discovery of when and how the sport may have actually been integrated based on modern forensic science and you have a classic in the making. — LeRoy M. Graham MD, FCC