I have to confess, I wanted to read this biography because of the name Dixie Walker has in baseball history. That name that has been linked to the petition against Jackie Robinson becoming a Big League player. Walker is said to have been the initiator of the petition. I expected a biography of a bitter, southern bigot.
What I got was an insightful book about a baseball lifer. A guy who loved the game, played it and managed it for decades.
He played on and off for the Yankees but became a bench warmer when DiMaggio came up. With the White Sox he had a pre Tommy John kinda surgery which helped him have a great 1937 season.
He's the guy who is founding father of the players pension plan, an all star and the 1944 NL batting champion. I guy I learned to love instead of hate.
Yes, he was from the South and yes, people from his home town Birmingham would have strong feelings about Dixie playing with a colored player. But he did and learned to appreciate Jackie. Later on he expressed his admiration for players like Gilliam and Mays.
This is a very nicely written book, very digestible. It dares to be critical but also let's the reader see the family side of Walker. There is even a chapter all about his wife Estelle.
So, without expecting it, within 280 pages, the Peepuls Cherce became one of my favorite Brooklyn Dodgers players.