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

Ismael Nuņez
Puerto Rican Sun
September 26, 2009

How did you or what got you interested in doing the book?
Rob Ruck, The Tropic of Baseball I had written a book about the role of sport in the black community (Sandlot 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.
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