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Book Review: Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate by Rich Westcott

Biz Mackey A Giant Behind the Plate

Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate
by Rich Westcott
Temple University Press, 2020

Who is the greatest catcher of all-time? The question is often asked, and arguments ensue between defenders of Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra. Occasionally, a Josh Gibson apologist will chime in. Rarely does another name creep into the conversation, but Biz Mackey might be deserving of some consideration. Author Rich Westcott does an excellent job of examining Mackey’s life and impact on the diamond in the biography, Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate. Excluded from baseball on a larger stage due to segregation, Mackey nonetheless influenced catchers and his Hall of Fame legacy contributes to the argument that he was at least among the greatest catchers to ever play the game.

Westcott provides several testimonials of Mackey’s talent from players he played with and against before launching into his background, briefly discussing his childhood leading into his love for the game and quick success. The author is known for his focus on Philadelphia sports, so it is no surprise that he devotes a good portion of the third chapter to the impact of African American baseball in the Philadelphia area; Mackey was a popular player with both the Hilldale Giants and Philadelphia Stars. Mackey also helped spread the love of baseball in Japan when he traveled to play exhibition games.

Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate also includes information about Mackey’s turns as a manager and his mentorship of fellow Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella. Sadly, Mackey died in 1965, long before he and other Negro League superstars were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His great nephew, Ray C. Mackey III, accepted the award and spoke on the legend’s behalf at the 2006 ceremony.

Who is the greatest catcher of all-time? Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate probably will not change your answer, but it is a good addition to any baseball fan’s library.

Purchase Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate by Rich Westcott.

Random Awesomeness (part 2019.4)

Random Awesomeness

What I’m Reading Right Now: Firefight: The Reckoners, Book Two by Brandon Sanderson.

Purchase the debut album from The End Machine!
(The End Machine features classic-era Dokken members George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, and Mick Brown, with current Warrant vocalist Robert Mason behind the microphone.)

The Return of Random Awesomeness (part 2019.1)

It has been nearly three years since my last “Random Awesomeness” post. Partly because I don’t blog as much as I used to, and partly because I don’t spend as much time on the internet as I used to. But there is still a lot of cool stuff to be found around the web, and things that I want to share with you that don’t naturally fit into my own blogposts. Each “Random Awesomeness” entry will feature seven or more links to some pretty rad stuff, so (obviously) I recommend checking them out. I usually include a music video of some sort and a link where you can buy the music (or something related to the video). New in 2019 is “What I’m Reading Right Now.” No spoilers, just a link to where you can buy the book I’m reading.

I don’t know how often I will publish a new list “Random Awesomeness”…maybe weekly? I’m really not sure. Be awesome, and you’ll probably end up on the list. Since this is the first post in almost three years, I decided to change up the top-of-post image as well, so without further ado

Random Awesomeness

What I’m Reading Right Now: Steelheart: The Reckoners, Book One by Brandon Sanderson.

Purchase Star Wars music by John Williams.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Willard Brown


The only player selected by the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues in 2006 to play in the major leagues, Willard Brown‘s short tenure with the St. Louis Browns was less than impressive. But it was not his time with the Browns that earned him a spot among baseball’s immortals; rather, his excellence with the Kansas City Monarchs ensured his election. He was a speedy outfielder with a powerful bat, who could lead the league in home runs and “steal second base standing up,” according to Buck O’Neil. He served in the United States Army during World War II in 1944-1945. In 1947, Brown became the first black ballplayer to hit a home run in the American League.

That wraps up the posting for today…18 new Hall of Famers in 2006. Wow.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Sol White


Sol White was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an executive, though he was much more. He was one of the pioneers of the pre-Negro Leagues, and in 1907, he authored “History of Colored Baseball.”

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immotals” Ray Brown


Ray Brown was included in a 1938 Pittsburgh Courier list of names of Negro Leaguers who could play in the majors, talent-wise, if there were no restrictions against black players. His career won-lost record in the Negro Leagues was 105-44.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Pete Hill


The majority of Pete Hill‘s career came in the pre-Negro Leagues, but he is well-known among baseball die-hards. Historian Jim Riley includes Hill in a pre-1920 All-Star outfield with Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, with Cum Posey included him on his All-Time All-Star team.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Mule Suttles


Mule Suttles was long overlooked due to his quiet personality, but he could hit the ball just as well as other superstars in the Negro Leagues. He batted .325 but was also known for his power; Suttles hit the first-ever home run in the East-West Classic All-Star Game in 1933. Teammate Red Moore said, “He was kind of a genteel person. He was friendly, but when he was on the field he went to play. He was all business.”

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Effa Manley


The first woman inducted in the Hall of Fame, Effa Manley‘s Newark Eagles won the Negro League World Series in 1946. Among her accomplishments, Manley fought for compensation from the major leagues when they would sign a Negro Leaguer to a big league contract.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” JL Wilkinson


It seems ironic to me that the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues would induct a white man, but as the founder of one of the greatest Negro League franchises, the Kansas City Monarchs, it is difficult to deny JL Wilkinson his place among baseball immortals.

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