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But in this world, there was one absolute sanctuary where the community could escape from all of this and that was at the ballpark, where the only barrier was against Jim Crow and where, as one participant put it, white fans (at least 20 percent of the gate at Sunday games) were allowed to sit wherever they pleased.

People came to the Elite Giant games in their finest clothes as they headed to the ballpark from church. It was a place where families brought great hampers of food to watch the greats, including Josh Gibson of the rival Homestead Grays. The Elite Giants were never a dominant team and today lack the legendary cache of the Grays or the Kansas City Monarchs, but Mr. Luke argues persuasively that they should be given their due and argues for a permanent memorial to the team in Baltimore.

The Elite Giants developed players with great talent including eventual major league stars: Roy Campanella, who went on to a 10-year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then to the Hall of Fame; Joe Black, the first black pitcher to win a World Series game; and James “Junior” Gilliam, a player and coach with the Dodgers for no less than 25 years.

Journalist Larry Tye has written an epic biography of a man and his times while sociologist Bob Luke has created a prism reflecting the impact of one largely forgotten Negro league team on a city. Both books hit it out of the park.

Paul Dickson is working on a biography of baseball’s most colorful and innovative owner — Bill Veeck.