Red Sox fans, America's most passionate baseball devotees, have long blamed the team's failure to win the World Series on the Curse of the Bambino, brought on by trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920. But a more troubling losing streak began in 1945 when Jackie Robinson entered Fenway Park for a tryout and was greeted with condescension and a hostility that would define the franchise for half a century.
The Red Sox failed to sign Hall of Famers Robinson and Willie Mays beginning a disturbing pattern of passing on talented black players. Since then, argues Boston native and sportswriter Howard Bryant, the team - more specifically the seventy year ownership by the Yawkey family -- has garnered a reputation as one of the most stubbornly racist teams in baseball, prompting generations of black players to view a fabled team and historically rich city with trepidation.
Controversial and gripping, Shut Out traces this haunting legacy of racism against the backdrop of Boston's struggles withrace relations. Once the crucible of abolitionist humanism, the city has become a symbol of racial intolerance, and this duality, Bryant shows, is nowhere better exemplified than in the Red Sox.
As the Red Sox move to lift the "curse" with both new ownership and a diverse roster of players like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, Shut Out tells the volatile history of race - and the difficult healing process -- in Boston through the lens of its baseball team.