Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne: “The Baltimore Elite Giants”

Getting ready to leave on a trip with the Orioles and realizing I had finished the book I had with me, I asked Buck Showalter if I could borrow one from his office. I picked up the “The Baltimore Elite Giants” by Bob Luke from his office side table and he said, “You’ll like it.” Right again.

The book covers the team from beginning to integration. The trip is one rocky road, filled with financial, development, marketing and racial problems from beginning to end.

EliteGiants.jpgMore importantly, it is the story of men whose passion for the game knew no bounds. One could not travel their road if that passion were otherwise.

For those of us in Baltimore, the description of ballpark locations, business offices, player residences, restaurants and hotels used for visiting teams helps us paint a picture of then and now in the city.

There is detail about many important games and the players involved. The pictures of these players, their buses and fields are beautiful.

Jackie Robinson is here with Roy Campanella, Joe Black, Junior Gilliam, Leon Day and so many others, most of whom never had the chance to play in the majors. But make no mistake, they played major league ball.

The team’s yearly records, a 1947 operating statement and a lengthy footnote section make for interesting perusal, and are an invitation to search further if so inclined.

Baltimore’s impact on the growth of both the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball is often not given its due. A reading of the Elite Giants history adds substantially to that understanding.

Most are familiar with the segragation problems that created the Negro Leagues and hampered its operations. Those sins when made personal to Elite Giant players only add to an understanding of what these players endured.

The book is less than 200 pages and an easy read.

“I see great things in baseball.” ― Walt Whitman

“A Creed For Those Who Have Suffered” by Roy Campanella

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey ...
I asked for health, that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things ...
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise ...
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God ...
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things ...
I got nothing I asked for--but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among men, most richly blessed!”

Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2017 season is his 11th with the club and 32nd covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March.

* Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne. © Copyright 2017 Gary F. Thorne. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gary F. Thorne and MASNsports.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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