Synopses & Reviews
Bill "Ready" Cash, a powerhouse catcher for the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro Leagues from 1943 to 1950, had a nasty arm, a potent bat, and knowledge of the game that would embarrass some of today's major leaguers. That knowledge, along with insights and vignettes rarely, if ever, revealed, spills out of his colorful autobiography, Thou Shalt Not Steal: The Baseball Life and Times of a Rifle-Armed Negro League Catcher, co-authored with award-winning journalist Al Hunter Jr. Thou Shalt Not Steal percolates with the thrills, challenges, heartbreaks, successes, and racism Cash endured in his baseball career -- including stints in Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and Venezuela - and as a black man living in America.And he recalls in painful detail the controversial play at home plate in 1946 involving the Newark Eagles' Larry Doby (who later became the first black to play in the American League). That was when Cash, frustrated at the blown call, accidentally smacked the white umpire -- and nearly started a riot in Ruppert Stadium. Some say that play blackballed Cash and kept him from making it to the majors. "Shoot, as bad as that call was," Cash writes, "I should've stomped him."Funny, charming, poignant, and significantly honest, Thou Shalt Not Steal is as much a history of the game as it is a record of the plight of African Americans in the 20th century. Where some books about the Negro Leagues take a wide-angle view of the league's history and focus on its superstars, Thou Shalt Not Steal focuses on the experiences of one man - Bill "Ready" Cash - so the reader develops a deep appreciation not only for Cash, but for the lives of other players, who, like him, were the backbone of the league.Whether it evokes pride or outrage, empathy or profound respect, Thou Shalt Not Steal will fascinate all who open its pages. Sadly Cash, who started his autobiography when he was seventy-nine years old, died Sept. 12, 2011, just three months before it was published. He was ninety-two.