Oscar Charleston: Was Cobb 'The White Charleston'? Summary

John B. Holway


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Oscar Charleston, to the baseball historian and those with a fascination for the Negro leagues, looms as a powerful, even menacing figure out of baseball's epic past, whose image is yet half-shadowed because of the scarcity of historical records from the era he dominated. Those who played with and against him remember his steel gray eyes that were tinted with blue, eyes said to have been frightening, cold, and determined. Those who have delved into baseball's hidden history say he may have been the best baseball player who ever lived; he was so good that he made the spectacular seem commonplace. He was supremely intelligent, enormously strong, and without fear. His feats seem legendary now: frequent and huge home runs; explosive base running that invites comparison to Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, and Ricky Henderson; superlative all around hitting skills that produced .400 batting averages in several seasons. As Holway puts it, "Of all the evils of baseball's long segregation policy, one of the worst was denying the vast majority of fans the chance to see Oscar Charleston for themselves."

(The entire section is 178 words.)