God Almighty Hisself

Univ. of Pennsylvania. Mar. 2016. 408p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780812248012. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9780812292558. BIOG
The Philadelphia Phillies were the last National League team to desegregate, promoting their first black player to the roster a full decade after Jackie Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Dick Allen (b. 1942) followed shortly thereafter and became the team's first bona fide superstar, stunning fans with his moonshot home runs and speed along the base paths. Despite his accomplishments, Allen has a divisive reputation, which Nathanson (A People's History of Baseball) explores in this work. The author examines Allen's playing career in the context of the social and political upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, demonstrating how the athlete's attitude and behavior, as portrayed in the press, produced a public image that was hard to shake. Nathanson's meticulous research reveals how the supposedly prickly and mercurial fans of Allen's era may remember him as part of a reflection of baseball's evolving understanding of black players in a time of rapid change.
VERDICT Nathanson has done a great service to Allen and baseball readers alike with this addition to the ever-growing list of baseball biographies.
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