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June 12th, 2013

Life in the Negro Leagues: baseball before Robinson



Wilmer Fields was a superstar in the Negro Leagues, back when baseball was segregated. After Jackie Robinson broke the color line (as shown in this year’s hit film, "42"), Fields received five different offers to join white teams. But he loved the Negro Leagues and never left. After his retirement, he fought to get the Negro League players covered by Major League Baseball’s pension and health care benefits.

This new edition of Fields’ memoir, with an introduction by baseball historian John Holway, features a new interview with Fields’ son, Billy, who had his own professional sports career in basketball. Fields tells the story of the "dream come true" that "allowed a black country boy" from Virginia to play the game he loved with teammates he admired and trusted.

Fields tells his story, from college football to military service in WWII to hitting .427 in 1956 and being honored as one of the "Black legends of baseball" in 1990. He writes about players like the legendary Josh Gibson and Sam Hairston, who became a White Sox manager. He writes about the game itself, the qualities that make a team and the dedication that makes a world-class athlete, and about the loving support he received from his parents and his wife.

If someone asked me today if I regretted not accepting a major league contract, I would have to say no – though the money sure is tempting – because I was meant to have a career in the Negro Leagues. While it is the desire of most ball players to play in the major leagues because it says, "I am a success - I play against the best," it was never my desire. When I was young, I prayed that God would give me the ability to play black baseball, and for that gift I am most grateful. I also got to play against major leaguers in Latin American countries and Canada so I never doubted that I could play against them because I did, and quite well, in fact.

The book will be published for Kindle on June 4, and will be available in print on Amazon later that month.

Review copies and interviews with Wilmer Fields, Jr. are available. There are also a limited number of first editions, some signed by Wilmer Fields, which will be made available for sale.

Miniver Press is a publisher specializing in lively and informative ebooks and print books about pop culture, history, and entertainment. Other titles include Love Me Do: The Inside Story of the Beatles’ First Recording, Abraham Lincoln’s Law Notes, Bessie Coleman: Pioneering Black Woman Aviator, Baseball’s Biggest Miracle: The 1914 Boston Braves, the travel guide, Robin Hood’s England, A Metal Fan’s Notes, adapted from Ben Apatoff’s popular blog on metal music. Coming soon: books on Lynyrd Skynyrd and the latest in the Must-See Movie series, featuring movies about fathers.


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