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Cy Block

Chicago Cubs

1919-2004


SO YOU WANT TO BE A MAJOR LEAGUER?

Narrated by Jeff Riggenbach

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This file is 6.4 MB; running time is 27 minutes
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Everyone thinks of baseball in terms of the major leagues; the plush life and tremendous incomes. But for every starry-eyed youngster who battles his way to the big-time, there are countless more who don't. This is the story of one player who devoted thirteen years of his life trying to fulfill an American tradition. From his Brooklyn schoolyard to Wrigley Field in Chicago, by way of Paragould, Greenville, Macon, and Tulsa, Cy Block worked hard at playing baseball.

So You Want to be a Major Leaguer? is a memoir of minor league baseball life in the late 1930's and 1940's. A rendering of time and place, it is of interest to historians. As the story of a young man's determination to make it to the big leagues, it appeals to baseball fans and everyone who enjoys a story of achievement against the odds.

So You Want to Be a Major Leaguer? was first published in 1965 and has been reprinted several times. It was written with sportswriter Leonard Lewin of the New York Post.

Cy Block

Cy Block began his baseball career at age nineteen when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938. Over the next thirteen years he played for several minor league teams, as well as for the Chicago Cubs, the team he was traded to in 1941. He played in the World Series in 1945, after serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. His career ended in Buffalo in 1951. His lifetime batting average was .325.

The career of Cy Block, on and off the field, has interested cultural historians and baseball buffs for several generations. As a young Jewish baseball player, playing in the late 1930's, he endured prejudice and sometimes hostility. Yet, he enjoyed the respect and friendship of fellow players, of management, and especially the fans, as he moved from city to city, upward through the minor league system. During his career, he was an outspoken advocate of players' rights, one of the few players in those days to challenge management. His dealings with baseball brass legends Judge Mountain Landis, Ford Frick, Branch Rickey Jr., and Larry MacPhail were face-to-face, and involved issues that would not be addressed by the baseball community until a generation later. A 30 day holdout he conducted in 1947 prefigured the rise of free agency, a major cornerstone of modern-day professional sports.

As a result of his advocacy for players' rights, he was asked to testify in the United States Congress regarding baseball's infamous reserve clause. His testimony helped contribute to the eventual overturning of the reserve clause and earned him praise from sports historians. In the 1980's he once again became involved with Major League Baseball in his efforts to reform the player's pension fund on behalf of former players.

After he retired from baseball in 1951, Cy entered the business world, soon becoming a leader in the insurance industry. He was frequently cited by sportswriters for his post-baseball business success, and he was publically honored several times for his civic contributions. He served as an adviser on Jack Kemp's 1980 Presidential campaign committee and on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. In 1984, he founded the New York City Clean-Up Contest, a neighborhood by neighborhood campaign to clean the city's streets and parks, which became a model program for other cities. His other philanthropic activities included founding a little league in Harlem and a girls softball league in his home community.

More information about Cy Block from Wikipedia




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