The St. Louis Browns have a good chance to make it to the World Series in 1922. Mickey Rawlings was traded in the spring to their team specifically to help train a new rookie on the team. So he and Margie moved from Cincinnati to St. Louis. Rawlings has little on field training time as the season begins. He spends his time on the bench.
When offered a chance to play in a semi-pro club for one game against the local Negro team, he accepts. He has watched those players before, and knows they are as good or better than many of the players in the "big leagues". He expects that as a big league player, he'll be fine as a ringer in the game. What he doesn't realize is that the Negro semi-pro team also brings in a ringer for their pitcher. Rawlings is defeated both at bat and in the field.
A few days later, that same pitcher is found dead, hanging from the board at the ball park in East St. Louis where the game had been played. It appeared to be a KKK lynching, but the Klan didn't claim the action. Karl Lanfors, Rawlings' socialist friend, comes to St. Louis to help fight for a federal anti-lynching law. Before he knows it, Rawlings is trying to find out why the Negro pitcher was really lynched. What exactly is the Klan involvement both with this hanging and with the general edgy race relations in East St. Louis?
This is an excellent novel, with the history of both baseball and the racial tensions of the 1920's. It portrays part of the long era of the embarrassment this country should have for the segregation and treatment of a population segment of its citizens. Baseball has a rich tradition. So do the Blacks. So do the Whites. It's too bad the three couldn't exist together for so many years. Hanging Curve showcases the problems that existed a century ago and the background and feelings that still exist.
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