OSCAR CHARLESTON: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player
By: Jeremy Beer; University of Nebraska Press; 2019
Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neill. These names and many more are household names in any baseball fan’s home. While these men were all extraordinary ballplayers there is one name that is missing from that list. That man is Oscar Charleston.
Jeremy Beer’s biography of Charleston gives the most accurate account of his life as possible, considering Oscar was born in 1896 and was a man of color. His life is pieced together from newspaper clippings that mention the trouble his older siblings got into in their youth, and then as time goes on, by the outstanding statistics he produced during his 26 year career. Charleston never had children, and kept only one scrapbook with newspaper clippings and photographs from his entire life. The work that Beer put in to making sure the modern world does not forget the man many reporters called “the colored Babe Ruth” is very impressive.
Oscar’s career took him from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, California to Cuba, and many more cities. Wherever he went thousands of people of all ethnicities flocked to the ballpark to witness his outstanding one-handed outfield catches, powerful home runs, and maybe even an altercation with an umpire who missed a call or two.
Any fan of the game should settle in with this book as it is not only worth the read, but more people need to know about the baseball career and life of Oscar Charleston.