Shades of Gray
Discovering that life is not all black or white
Our White Boy
By Jerry Craft and Kathleen Sullivan
Texas Tech University Press
272 pages, $29.95
While it might not seem like it, the title of this book, Our White Boy, is a term of endearment, not a slur—but it didn't start out that way.
When Jerry Craft first joined the Wichita Falls/Graham Stars semi-professional baseball team in 1959, his teammates called him "white boy" or simply "boy." It was only after they got to know him and understand his motives for joining the team that they added the "our," signifying that he truly was one of them.
Our White Boy recounts a time and a place that will be a distant memory for older readers and almost incomprehensible to younger ones. During the summers of 1959 and 1960, Craft was the only white player in the West Texas Colored League, a semi-pro league whose seven teams included the Waco Tigers and the Haskell Yellow Dogs. Together with his teammates, he traveled the state, playing other black teams, along with independent Hispanic and white teams. Not only were the players unpaid, but they often took up collections during the seventh-inning stretch, hoping to get money to buy gas and even baseballs.
Now a rancher and former mayor of Jacksboro, Craft says he played with the Stars against his family's wishes for one simple reason—he loved the game. "The integration of the Stars is more meaningful to me now than it was in 1959," he writes. "Back then, I was just happy to play baseball. Now I realize the significance of our achievement."
One of the people who helped Craft put his experiences into perspective is Kathleen Sullivan '92, MA '94, who was teaching sports literature at the University of Texas at Arlington when she met the former player in 2005. After hearing Craft's story, Sullivan persuaded him to put his experiences down on paper. "I would be his ghostwriter," she writes, "and preserve his voice, a white West Texas rancher who loved baseball and fondly recalled his experiences with an all-black baseball team."
Craft and Sullivan recount how the all-black crowds grew to love the young pitcher, who helped the team win all but one game in 1959. They relate how the team would caravan to away games, when Craft was the only one who could purchase cold drinks and snacks from the "whites only" service stations along the way.
Perhaps the most compelling incident is one that took place after a game in Waco, when the team was denied service at a "blacks only" restaurant because of Craft. "To a man, my teammates stood up and walked away from plates full of food," Craft remembers.
While his playing days are far behind him, Craft has developed a whole new set of fans who are eager to read his story. One of his biggest admirers is famed Texas author Larry McMurtry. "Jerry Craft has given us an engaging and finally touching book," McMurtry writes. "It is a story of racial harmony in an era of racial distrust. I highly recommend it."
Meaning and Mystery: What it Means to Believe in God
By David M. Holley
West Sussex, England
David M. Holley '70 is a philosopher, but when it comes to one of life's central questions—"Do I believe in God?"—he argues that philosophers approach the issue from the wrong perspective. Rather than taking a theoretical approach, Holley says, people need to decide about God by answering another question: "How shall I live?"
A professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Southern Mississippi, Holley says that he was prompted to write Meaning and Mystery by a high school senior who was trying to decide whether or not to continue believing in God. "Here was a belief that had played an important role in his life," Holley writes. "Yet he was proceeding as if he could decide about the belief by a type of thinking that eliminated the need for any personal involvement."
Holley guides readers through what he calls "life-orienting stories," along the way exploring different religions, authors, and even TV shows and movies. He admits that his concepts sometimes take readers into "deeper waters," but he also never skirts tough issues. This book is for people who want to think seriously about a belief in God.
Love Has a Face
By Michele Perry
Grand Rapids, Michigan
"The Sudanese dirt had been ground into my sweat-drenched skin, two babies had already peed on me, and it was not yet lunchtime," writes Michele Perry, a 1999 Baylor graduate and the founding field ministry coordinator for Iris Ministries in Southern Sudan. In Love Has a Face, Perry writes with humor, honesty, and pathos about her life in Africa, the people she meets, and how she continues to persevere against incredible odds.
"I love my life. I really do. I love it so much that I want to share it with you," writes Perry, who describes herself as "the little white woman with one leg and crutches." Born without her left hip and leg, Perry has been an overachiever from birth. She was a motivational speaker at the age of nine, a published author at sixteen, and she writes that she had "intricate ten-year plans for global takeover."
It was while she was a student at Baylor that her worldview and her plans changed. Greatly influenced by services at Waco's Church Under the Bridge and other local ministries, Perry felt a call from God to serve the world's poor. After doing mission work in the slums of Calcutta, India, she moved to Sudan in 2002, where she eventually opened an orphanage in guerilla warfare territory.
Perry says she now lives her life "beyond the edge of the map." There, she has encountered violence, poverty, and death. And there, she adds, is where "a holy adventure awaits."
Love Your Body
By Bethany Hughes and Vince Grbic
Bright Sky Press
When you read this book's subtitle—"The Real Secret to Weight Loss and Lifetime Fitness"—you might think to yourself, "Oh no, not another book that professes to have 'the secret.'" But keep reading, because rather than fad diets and gymnastic workouts, Love Your Body offers practical tips, commonsense methods, and positive reinforcement.
The book is co-written by Bethany Sartain Hughes '85 and her fitness trainer, Vince Grbic, who have also founded "Babe-a-licious" Boot Camp in Houston. Hughes, who describes herself as a "reformed dieter," started working out with Grbic in 2005, and when she invited some friends to come along, a movement and a new business were formed.
Presented in a colorful style with numerous pictures, the book is written for people of all ages and fitness levels. In addition to both indoor and outdoor workouts, Love Your Body includes sample menus, nutrition information, and a place for readers to keep a food journal.
Also of Note
Dr. Cindy Bradford '72 has written a novel, Keeping Faith, published by BookSurge Publishing. The book's sequel, Promises Kept, will be released later this year. [doccbradford.com]
Four Baylor alumni—Richard '80 and Paige Corley Henderson '86 and David '85 and April Gibson Terry '86—recorded a worship CD, Ravished, available at fellowshipofthesword.com.
Stephen B. Isabirye '81, MA '83, has written a book about British children's author Enid Blyton titled The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage, published by Infinity Publishing. [bbotw.com]
Smyth & Helwys has published Faith Postures: Cultivating Christian Mindfulness, written by Holly R. Sprink '98, MDiv '04. [helwys.com]
If you've recently had a book published, a CD released, or a video produced, send a copy for consideration c/o "Under Review," Baylor Line, One Bear Place #97116, Waco, TX 76798-7116.