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Comeback Season: My Unlikely Story of Friendship with the Greatest Living Negro League Baseball Players

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The uplifting, unlikely, and inspirational true story of the friendships formed between Cam Perron—a white, baseball-obsessed teenager from Boston—and hundreds of former professional Negro League players, who were still awaiting the recognition and compensation that they deserved from Major League Baseball more than fifty years after their playing days were over. Featuring The uplifting, unlikely, and inspirational true story of the friendships formed between Cam Perron—a white, baseball-obsessed teenager from Boston—and hundreds of former professional Negro League players, who were still awaiting the recognition and compensation that they deserved from Major League Baseball more than fifty years after their playing days were over. Featuring the players’ fascinating stories and original photographs. Cam Perron always loved history, and from an early age, he had a knack for collecting. But when he was twelve and bought a set of Topps baseball cards featuring several players from the Negro Leagues, something clicked. Cam started writing letters to former Negro League players in 2007, asking for their autographs and a few words about their careers. He got back much more than he expected. The players responded with detailed stories about their glory days on the field, and the racism they faced, including run-ins with the KKK. They explained how they were repeatedly kept out of the major leagues and confined to the historic but lower-paying Negro Leagues, even after Jackie Robinson—who got his start in the Negro Leagues—broke the color barrier. By the time Cam finished middle school, letters had turned into phone calls, and he was spending hours a day talking with the players. In these conversations, many of the players revealed that their careers had been unrecognized over time, and they’d fallen out of touch with their former teammates. So Cam, along with a small group of fellow researchers, organized the first annual Negro League Players Reunion in Birmingham, Alabama in 2010. At the celebratory, week-long event, fifteen-year-old Cam and the players—who were in their 70s, 80s, and 90s—finally met in person. They quickly became family. As Cam and the players returned to the reunion year after year, Cam became deeply involved in a complicated mission to help many players get pension money that they were owed from Major League Baseball. He also worked to get a Negro League museum opened in Birmingham, and stock it with memorabilia. Sports fans—and anyone who enjoys a heartfelt story—will have their eyes opened by this book about unlikely friendships, the power of memories, and just how far a childhood interest can go.


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The uplifting, unlikely, and inspirational true story of the friendships formed between Cam Perron—a white, baseball-obsessed teenager from Boston—and hundreds of former professional Negro League players, who were still awaiting the recognition and compensation that they deserved from Major League Baseball more than fifty years after their playing days were over. Featuring The uplifting, unlikely, and inspirational true story of the friendships formed between Cam Perron—a white, baseball-obsessed teenager from Boston—and hundreds of former professional Negro League players, who were still awaiting the recognition and compensation that they deserved from Major League Baseball more than fifty years after their playing days were over. Featuring the players’ fascinating stories and original photographs. Cam Perron always loved history, and from an early age, he had a knack for collecting. But when he was twelve and bought a set of Topps baseball cards featuring several players from the Negro Leagues, something clicked. Cam started writing letters to former Negro League players in 2007, asking for their autographs and a few words about their careers. He got back much more than he expected. The players responded with detailed stories about their glory days on the field, and the racism they faced, including run-ins with the KKK. They explained how they were repeatedly kept out of the major leagues and confined to the historic but lower-paying Negro Leagues, even after Jackie Robinson—who got his start in the Negro Leagues—broke the color barrier. By the time Cam finished middle school, letters had turned into phone calls, and he was spending hours a day talking with the players. In these conversations, many of the players revealed that their careers had been unrecognized over time, and they’d fallen out of touch with their former teammates. So Cam, along with a small group of fellow researchers, organized the first annual Negro League Players Reunion in Birmingham, Alabama in 2010. At the celebratory, week-long event, fifteen-year-old Cam and the players—who were in their 70s, 80s, and 90s—finally met in person. They quickly became family. As Cam and the players returned to the reunion year after year, Cam became deeply involved in a complicated mission to help many players get pension money that they were owed from Major League Baseball. He also worked to get a Negro League museum opened in Birmingham, and stock it with memorabilia. Sports fans—and anyone who enjoys a heartfelt story—will have their eyes opened by this book about unlikely friendships, the power of memories, and just how far a childhood interest can go.

51 review for Comeback Season: My Unlikely Story of Friendship with the Greatest Living Negro League Baseball Players

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Though the breakdown of the color barrier in Major League Baseball was necessary and inevitable, it came at a cost to the Negro Leagues, which until then had been vibrant showcases of Black excellence. In the mid- to late-1940s, when some of the best Black players left for the majors, their fans went with them, causing attendance at Negro League games to shrivel. Players who didn’t get tapped for the majors saw their careers sidelined. It was those former Negro League players who deeply fascinate Though the breakdown of the color barrier in Major League Baseball was necessary and inevitable, it came at a cost to the Negro Leagues, which until then had been vibrant showcases of Black excellence. In the mid- to late-1940s, when some of the best Black players left for the majors, their fans went with them, causing attendance at Negro League games to shrivel. Players who didn’t get tapped for the majors saw their careers sidelined. It was those former Negro League players who deeply fascinated a young Cam Perron after he first learned about them through baseball cards. See the rest of my review in the Christian Science Monitor.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book is about a white teenager who details the journey of how he came to be a well known Negro Leagues researcher. Overall, this book does what it sets out to do. He details how he came to be a collector, how he got in contact with current, then former major league players and ultimately former Negro Leagues players. He details how he tracked them down via online directories, asked them for autographs, and with some befriending them. He ultimately would help many get their pensions from Maj This book is about a white teenager who details the journey of how he came to be a well known Negro Leagues researcher. Overall, this book does what it sets out to do. He details how he came to be a collector, how he got in contact with current, then former major league players and ultimately former Negro Leagues players. He details how he tracked them down via online directories, asked them for autographs, and with some befriending them. He ultimately would help many get their pensions from Major League Baseball. This is an amazing thing, because many of these guys live in poverty and need every penny they can get. He also helped to set up annual reunions for former Negro Leaguers, and got these guys in touch with each other over the phone as well. Some hadn't seen each other in as much as fifty years! My favorite thing about this book is learning more about the players. Some of them in their own words. I wish this would've been a bigger part of this book. I wasn't too keen, however, on the fact that some of the quotes from researchers or Cam's mom took up so much space. It would've been much better if these were summarized. Also, more of his relationships with the players. These guys just didn't magically trust a 14 year old kid who randomly calls them on the phone. How did he build that trust with these guys who are in some cases 65 years older or more than him. That's what I wanted out of this. Also, this is co-written with a Pulitzer Prize journalist. Yet it sounds more like a book written with a junior high student. It dragged on in some cases and I guess I just expected tighter writing with that caliber of co-author. Thank you to Gallery Books, authors Cam Perron and Nick Chiles, and NetGalley for gifting me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    Cam Perron, a white teenager from the Boston area, started his most successful project by doing what many teenage boys do – collect items such as baseball cards. This hobby became something bigger when Cam received cards for players from the Negro Leagues. Intrigued by their history, he started searching for these men to connect to get their autographs. These requests for autographs turned into regular correspondence with some of them. As Cam talked and wrote to them, some of the stories these p Cam Perron, a white teenager from the Boston area, started his most successful project by doing what many teenage boys do – collect items such as baseball cards. This hobby became something bigger when Cam received cards for players from the Negro Leagues. Intrigued by their history, he started searching for these men to connect to get their autographs. These requests for autographs turned into regular correspondence with some of them. As Cam talked and wrote to them, some of the stories these players shared ended with wishes to connect with old friends and teammates. Cam obliged as well as he could and eventually he and these players became like one big family, culminating in the creation of a Negro Leagues museum in Birmingham, Alabama. Cam’s story is an engrossing and wonderful story that is a joy to read. At the beginning of Cam’s interest in connecting with these players was met with some skepticism as many of these men, having endured years of racism when playing the game they loved, did not respond. Those that did, however, ended up being overjoyed to see someone recognize them and wishing to listen to their stories. While Cam writes about his connections at this time with joy, it is clear, as he describes later, that he wanted to do more than just have friendships with these players. He teams up with a Negro Leagues researcher, Dr. Layton Revel, in order to find documentation to prove that these players did play long enough to collect a pension from Major League Baseball. Cam and Dr. Revel were successful in doing this for several players. Their efforts gained the attention of the media and even more former Negro League players, which made Cam and Dr. Revel even more determined to not only gain pensions for those who earned them, but also to have a reunion of these players while they were still alive at the museum dedicated to them. It should be noted that this is separate from the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City – this is a different museum, where the main attraction is a large case of baseball, each one signed by a player from the later era of the Negro Leagues. This is one aspect of both Cam’s project and the book that is quite different from other books and research on the Negro Leagues. Many of the players highlighted in the book played in the Negro Leagues after the integration of the Major Leagues. Because of the unwritten quotas for Black players set by teams and also the view that the Negro Leagues were prime developing grounds for future Major League players, the players of this era may not be as recognizable to the regular fan, but make no mistake, these players were excellent at the game, they loved playing, and their stories are just as entertaining and enlightening as those of the more famous Negro League stars. One of the players whose story is featured in the book is James “Cowboy” Atterbury who played in for the Philadelphia Stars in 1962 and 1963. While his story is one that is uplifting because he got that chance to play professionally with the Stars, it is also one that sadly displays the racism and the discrimination he and other Negro League players, even as late as the 1960s. Cam lets the players tell their stories themselves frequently in the book which is a great decision on his part. It made the book a fantastic account of not only the players and the Negro Leagues after integration of the Major Leagues, but also an uplifting book of friendships that go well beyond baseball. One doesn’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book. I wish to thank Gallery Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. https://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/20...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I've been really torn over how to rate this book. This story was more of a memoir / biography of Cam, and came across almost like an infomercial for his brand. Don't get me wrong, his brand has some good things about it. He helped many former players receive their pensions from MLB. He has obviously made some connection with many of them. He's young and bringing this history to a new generation while some people involved got to witness it and see their history celebrated. AND! Almost no Negro Lea I've been really torn over how to rate this book. This story was more of a memoir / biography of Cam, and came across almost like an infomercial for his brand. Don't get me wrong, his brand has some good things about it. He helped many former players receive their pensions from MLB. He has obviously made some connection with many of them. He's young and bringing this history to a new generation while some people involved got to witness it and see their history celebrated. AND! Almost no Negro Leagues scholarship deals with the period in which most of these players played - AFTER "integration" by Jackie Robinson in 1947. More of this please!!!! But. Something here just doesnt sit quite right. Much is made throughout the book of the selfless nature of the project, how Dr. Revel turned down payment from MLB, and that absolutely nobody was taking advantage if the players. But, then a couple of examples: Halfway through the book when Cam talks about contacting Charlie Dees. He tells how Charlie Dees doesnt sign autographs often. That makes his autograph rare, and that he knows that collectors will pay over $100 for his autograph. See, it's not just about Charlie Dees, but also about Charlie Dees being the last holdout to complete a set of autographs. When he talks to Charlie, Mr. Dees says “It’s fifty dollars an autograph. Whitey Ford charges fifty dollars; I charge fifty dollars.” The next line: "I thought to myself, Whoa, Charlie, Whitey Ford is in the Hall of Fame— you are no Whitey Ford." Cam then talks him down to $30 an autograph, knowing that the autograph is worth more than that, and than the $50 that he just insulted. Later, he speaks of Frank Marsh, who was skeptical of Cam and Dr. Revel, saying he believed they were profiting off their endeavors. Cam avers that this couldn't be further from the truth, but that the concern was understandable since Marsh may have heard about people swindling Cool Papa Bell or "just had a lifelong distrust of white people." Apparently Marsh "lightened up" after they helped him get the pension that he expected to qualify for. More lightly. There's not much of the Negro Leagues or its players here. There are bits where some get a few pages to tell a story. Each of these follow a pattern: basic outline of life, anecdote about playing in the Negro Leagues, and Cam is awesome! In total, these accounts make up a very small portion of the book. The first two pieces of these vignettes *were* awesome, and I wanted more. The last would have been much improved in the way the whole book would have been improved - SHOW us these relationships between the players and Cam. I didn't leave the book feeling like I knew many players very well or the type of friendship they had with Cam and Cam had with them. There are things like - he and I room together every year at the reunion. He helped me get my pension. Nothing that actually *shows* the relationship the way we get the powerful stories about playing in the Negro Leagues. And the writing style is a bit tedious. It is very rambly, and not much different in writing style than the paper Cam included that he wrote when he was 14. On some of the themes here that make me uncomfortable - I highly recommend reading this book regarding power dynamics like the one Cam has here: Check out this book on Goodreads: Long Past Slavery: Representing Race in the Federal Writers' Project https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... Thank you to authors Cam Perron and Nick Chiles, publisher Gallery Books, and Netgalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for my honest opinion

  5. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Comeback Season is a memoir and history of Cam Perron's involvement with baseball fandom which led to his befriending by many former Negro League Baseball players and the establishment of a hall of fame museum in Birmingham, Alabama. Due out 30th March 2021 from Simon & Schuster on their Gallery Books imprint, it's 272 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactiv Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Comeback Season is a memoir and history of Cam Perron's involvement with baseball fandom which led to his befriending by many former Negro League Baseball players and the establishment of a hall of fame museum in Birmingham, Alabama. Due out 30th March 2021 from Simon & Schuster on their Gallery Books imprint, it's 272 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats. This is one of those engaging real life stories which I really felt on a deep emotional level. The fact that the author chose to let the athletes speak for themselves added a lot of impact. I was often uncomfortable reading their matter-of-fact stories of absolutely horrible racism and inequality (I got chills reading about "Cowboy" Atterbury and teammates' encounter face to face with the KKK). Their stories of perseverance and dignity in the face of daunting odds are inspiring. I'm so glad that the author and others worked very hard to document and negotiate the pensions many of them were owed by major league baseball. Four and a half stars. I would heartily recommend this to sports fans (especially the ones who love knowing minutiae about their favorite athletes and teams), readers of biography and memoirs, fans of history. This would also make a good acquisition for public or school library use. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brent Soderstrum

    I won this book through GoodReads first read program. This is the story about a teenage white boy from Boston and how he developed great relationships with former players from the Negro League. This is really the autobiography of Cam Perron. He talks about how he got involved in collecting baseball memorabilia and how that led him to getting in touch with former players from the Negro Leagues who weren't really the star players we all know about. He writes about how those relationships developed I won this book through GoodReads first read program. This is the story about a teenage white boy from Boston and how he developed great relationships with former players from the Negro League. This is really the autobiography of Cam Perron. He talks about how he got involved in collecting baseball memorabilia and how that led him to getting in touch with former players from the Negro Leagues who weren't really the star players we all know about. He writes about how those relationships developed over the years, how he was able to help many Negro League players get Major League pensions and how the Birmingham Negro League Baseball Museum was started, developed, and begun. He also writes about the yearly reunion for former Negro League players which happens every year in Birmingham. He along with two other older white men got the reunions going and the former players love them. I am a big baseball fan and a fan of history. Cam was able to live out the dream by contacting these players and becoming friends with them. Not a lot of money in what he did but certainly an opportunity to do what he loved. Maybe the book will bring even more former players out of the woodwork, although the number of former players still alive are dwindling everyday.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    A unique baseball and friendship story unlike I have read before. Very well done, Cam. Keep fighting the good fight.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is the second book I've read this year concerning Black athletes and the difficulties (that word is a poor choice, but I can't think of a better one right now) they endured for the love of the game. In the earlier book, Black Olympic athletes at the 1936 Games in Germany had to deal with Hitler and his "master race." In COMEBACK SEASON, we get more joy as Negro League baseball players share their experiences with a teenage Cam Perron, who turned a niche collecting hobby into relationships w This is the second book I've read this year concerning Black athletes and the difficulties (that word is a poor choice, but I can't think of a better one right now) they endured for the love of the game. In the earlier book, Black Olympic athletes at the 1936 Games in Germany had to deal with Hitler and his "master race." In COMEBACK SEASON, we get more joy as Negro League baseball players share their experiences with a teenage Cam Perron, who turned a niche collecting hobby into relationships with surviving members of teams and in the process helped some of them get the recognition -- and sometimes a pension -- the players deserved. COMEBACK SEASON is an engaging read. I'm not a sports fan but I was drawn into the book from the first page and found myself interested in not only how Cam Perron found himself looking into the Negro leagues and their history but also reaching out to the players in those leagues, forming bonds that have endured, helping organize reunions, and founding a museum dedicated to the players in those leagues. Highly recommended! I received an eARC from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster through NetGalley, and for that I thank them. All opinions are mine.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsay

    Cam Perron, a white preteen from the northeast fell in love with baseball and more specifically collecting baseball cards. This passion led him to researching various professional leagues, when he discovered the Negro Baseball League and thus the many phenomenal athletes who played in that league. Cam began researching, collecting cards, and ultimately formed lifelong friendships with many of the players. Notably, Cam was an advocate for establishing pensions for many of the players, creating a Cam Perron, a white preteen from the northeast fell in love with baseball and more specifically collecting baseball cards. This passion led him to researching various professional leagues, when he discovered the Negro Baseball League and thus the many phenomenal athletes who played in that league. Cam began researching, collecting cards, and ultimately formed lifelong friendships with many of the players. Notably, Cam was an advocate for establishing pensions for many of the players, creating a yearly Negro League reunion which led to many players reconnecting after years apart, and he was a pivotal part in the creation of the Negro Southern League Museum in Birmingham, AL.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I'm not really into baseball, but this story is amazing!! Hearing what these players had to go through is heartbreaking, and Cam's story itself is unique and interesting. Definitely would recommend to any history fans. I'm not really into baseball, but this story is amazing!! Hearing what these players had to go through is heartbreaking, and Cam's story itself is unique and interesting. Definitely would recommend to any history fans.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Larry Hostetler

    I imagine it is difficult sometimes to decide which storyline to use as a book’s main focus. Stories from those who played in the Negro Leagues? The development of the Negro League Museum in Birmingham and/or the annual player reunion? The MLB Pension and detective work to document service time? Or how a white boy in Boston area got involved in all those things (and more)? There are history books already telling some of the stories from and about the Negro Leagues. The Museum tells its own story I imagine it is difficult sometimes to decide which storyline to use as a book’s main focus. Stories from those who played in the Negro Leagues? The development of the Negro League Museum in Birmingham and/or the annual player reunion? The MLB Pension and detective work to document service time? Or how a white boy in Boston area got involved in all those things (and more)? There are history books already telling some of the stories from and about the Negro Leagues. The Museum tells its own story. And while the pension for Negro League players has been covered in various articles it may not warrant a book. I admit I expected more about the baseball experiences of the players and the leagues (I learned there were several.) But the story of Cam himself is a suitable thread to pull together the various compelling story lines. It is a good read that I fled through in a short time. While I would have enjoyed more historical stories (like how you can steal two bases on one pitch without any error or a recounting of the pitcher who struck out 24 batters in one game) it is good to leave the reader wanting more. You will get a good sense of what it was like for young, white Cam to build unlikely friendships with aging/aged Negro League players and the way those friendships affected all. It’s worth the read and five stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book reminded me strongly of the movie version of The Help, it should be an amazing story about the black struggle is just a young white hero story. Often in the book the author repeats how he did this just for the intrinsic value of helping these old ball players but then why write a book about how wonderful he is. Example, he doesn't even start talking about the Negro League until chapter four, before that we had to hear about how he was a Red Sox fan and started a baseball card collectio This book reminded me strongly of the movie version of The Help, it should be an amazing story about the black struggle is just a young white hero story. Often in the book the author repeats how he did this just for the intrinsic value of helping these old ball players but then why write a book about how wonderful he is. Example, he doesn't even start talking about the Negro League until chapter four, before that we had to hear about how he was a Red Sox fan and started a baseball card collection. It felt more like a giant advertisement for his own business he runs. I have no doubt that these guys really do love him like a son and the work that he does is clearly valuable to him but I just want to know more about them and their incredible stories in the Negro League than a millennial from Boston. If he truly wanted to do this for them and not himself, this would be a collection of their stories not his. Thank you to Gallery Books, authors Cam Perron and Nick Chiles and NetGalley for gifting me this copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janice M. Schuetz

  14. 5 out of 5

    Len Roberto

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gallery Books

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Tsouros

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Perron

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joe Nartowicz

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jay

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Mattmiller

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pattyyy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cristian Șișca

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  27. 4 out of 5

    Seth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Roth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carlton Phelps

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

  32. 4 out of 5

    Tim Nistler

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  34. 5 out of 5

    Cook County Library

  35. 5 out of 5

    Katie Martin

  36. 5 out of 5

    Brian Guillaume

  37. 4 out of 5

    Casey O'Brien

  38. 4 out of 5

    Rhys Jones

  39. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Kapsch

  40. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Murtha

  41. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Sadakierski

  43. 5 out of 5

    Amber

  44. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

  45. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  46. 5 out of 5

    Steven Schend

  47. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

  48. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

  49. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  50. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  51. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

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