An Interview with Rob Ruck, author, The Tropic of Baseball:
Baseball in the Dominican Republic, and co-writer/producer of the film
Republic of Baseball
Puerto Rican Sun
September 26, 2009
- How did you or what got you interested in doing the book?
I had written a book about the role of sport in the black community
Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh) that focused on the Negro
League teams that made Pittsburgh the center of black baseball in the 1930s
and 40s. One of those clubs, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, was torn apart by
the Dominican Republic's volatile politics in 1937 when Satchel Paige,
Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and some of their teammates played for Cuidad
Trujillo. That, and growing up a fan of the Giants (before I moved to
Pittsburgh,) when Felipe Alou, Juan Marichal, Manny Mota and other
Dominicans played for the team, got me interested in better understanding
the story of baseball on the island.
- Did you have to speak Spanish to anyone?
Yes, but so many Dominicans speak English, especially in the common ground
that baseball provides between the US and the DR.
- Can you tell a little bit about yourself?
- I'm a child of the 1960s, now teaching history at the University of
Pittsburgh. I teach courses about the history of sport and U. S. history.
My wife, Maggie Patterson, and I have just finished a biography of Art
Rooney, the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a renaissance sportsman.
I'm 59 and love to run and bike.