Book Review on Handsome Ranson Jackson: Accidental Big Leaguer

Ransom Jackson isn’t the household name it once was, but back in the 1940s and 50s, Jackson was well known to those who followed baseball. During that time, if you followed sports, you followed baseball, so that meant many knew the man who they called handsome. During his ten-year career in the Majors with the Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, Ransom became a fan favorite wherever he went and lived through some of the most important times in baseball history. Now well past his playing days, Ransom decided it was time to chronicle some of the better stories of his baseball career and those are what is shared in his book, The Accidental Big Leaguer.

Being a more than average fan of baseball, I had heard of Ransom Jackson before, but the vast majority of what was shared in the book was news to me, and probably will be to most fans. It reads as a chronology of his life and career and gives an honest picture of struggles and successes both on the field and off. The reader learns early on that Jackson was not just a good baseball player, but a fantastic all-around athlete. He was good enough to play college football at TCU and the University of Texas becoming the only player to play in the Cotton Bowl two years in a row on two different teams.

Like many men growing up during that time, Ransom served time in the armed forces and even had the opportunity to play in one of the leagues created between different units. Ransom recalls that while it was a far cry from the Majors, those games were some of the favorite of his life because of what they meant and who he played with.

Ransom never really believed he could become a professional baseball player. He took his studies and his career in the military seriously but always stayed in shape and seemed to wow anyone around him who had the chance to see him play.

The former Cub shares many memories about his time on the diamond and with teammates. He played with many great players and perhaps the most interesting of his tales are the descriptions of his time with the Dodgers and his interactions with Jackie Robinson. Since they both played the same position he had a unique position and view of the man who broke baseball’s color barrier.

The reader will also be regaled of stories from his experiences off the diamond that make one realize how the game has evolved over time. Ransom states he still gets fan letters to this day and actually is still being introduced to people who were named for him because their parents were big baseball fans during his playing days. He recounts how he received the nickname of Handsome and many other personal stories about his family and interactions with teammates and friends during his career in baseball.

Ransom’s work is a quick read, but by no means a page turner. There are certainly some interesting stories, but the writing style does not necessarily leave the reader wanting more and eagerly pushing on. It is great that Ransom’s family encouraged him to get his experiences down on paper for the public to read because they truly are a one of a kind perspective on a very historical time in baseball history, and the history of the country and world in general. If you are interested in baseball history, have ties to the Dodger or Cub organization as a fan or otherwise, or just like to listen when old men tell their tales, this book may a good one to pick up.

Ransom wrote the book with assistance from Gaylon H. White. The 231 page work is published by Rowman and Littlefield.

Baseball Reflection Rating: 3/5

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