BASN Classic BlackBox: Strawberry And Cream The Boys Of Crenshaw High

Updated: December 8, 2007

A BASN Classic BlackBox Originally Published:May 16, 2004 STRAWBERRY AND CREAM




The Class of 1979

At Crenshaw High School

Inner city Los Angeles

A group of very talented Black kids playing high school baseball. Led by Darryl Strawberry. Headed for greatness. And tragedy. It was the best of Times. It would as well become the Worst of Times that followed.

Most of all this well written tale, a new book titled ” The Ticket Out ” by Michael Sokolove, may be more than anything else, something the author did not intend, but which Reality has made it. An Obituary for African Americans in baseball. The height of that Time when young Black ball players seemed to own Baseball, and gave the appearance of dominating Baseball for decades to come.

The lives of Strawberry and his high school baseball playing buddies, all Black, might be read as an Eulogy for this bygone Era. Yes as we know Strawberry went on to limited but real Greatness and Fame in the Major Leagues. None of his teammates did although they all Dreamed the Dream.

If it was just about Talent all of them would have made it and gone on to live lives of success and happiness. None did. Although some of them who never made it near the Majors may be among the most content of the group today.

Darryl went on to be a combination of the best and the worst that sports success can breed. With the home runs and World Series came drugs, infidelity, abuse, parole violations, disease and jail time.

The names of all Darryl’s high school teammates and their life stories until now, as all are still living, can be found told in fascinating counterpoint in the pages of ” The Ticket Out.” But it is far beyond their names and individual life stories that the sweeping drama and the grand themes of life in late 20th century America, African America, are to be found in these pages.

In the end the story that most needed to be told here, the understanding of why Black kids went in the 1970s from a love affair with baseball to a complete divorce from the sport at the start of the new century may or may not be found.

Certainly the growing absence of African Americans in baseball requires a deeper understanding that the superficial analysis that basketball and football are more excited sports. Whether they are or not. Are there common threads in the experiences and the expectations of the kids from Crenshaw that amounts to an understanding of the current disappointing phenomenon.

White and Latino kids continue to flock to this oldest of all American sports. Most athletically talented African American kids never make it to the NBA or NFL anyway. So the superficial analysis will not do.

There must be something more. It may be found in the successes and failures of the kids from Crenshaw High who loved to play baseball and wanted more than anything on earth to make their lives in baseball/ Maybe if you read ” The Ticket Out ” with great care and compassion you will divine this Mystery.

It’s worth trying.

Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box …….

Sokolove Book Cover