You are currently viewing More Kirkus, this time on my children’s book: … images that make clear the reality of segregation … cheeky retorts … a sly touch of social commentary

More Kirkus, this time on my children’s book: … images that make clear the reality of segregation … cheeky retorts … a sly touch of social commentary

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Here is the purchase link.


A Spartan coach bucks the system in Shanahan’s illustrated sports history.

Michigan State head coach Duffy Daugherty broke collegiate football barriers. Defensive end “Bubba” Smith’s own journey to Michigan State with his father, Willie Ray Smith Sr., sets the stage for a who’s who of men who helped Daugherty do so.

Starting in Texas, Smith and his father make stops in eight other states to pick up other talented recruits who would form a trailblazing Spartan lineup that “led the nation in integrated rosters” between the years 1959 and 1972.

From Clifton Roaf, the first Black recruit, to national title–winning quarterback Jimmy Raye and all-American Sherman Lewis, the author stresses the importance of each player’s life beyond the field; he writes that Duffy “cares about his players more than talent.”

Shanahan keeps the dialogue simple: Willie Ray plainly states how the players became recruits, notes their positions or status, and outlines the results of their educational pursuits. Recurring cheeky retorts to home institutions that wouldn’t accept the athletes because of their skin color (“Too bad for Texas and Texas A&M they didn’t want Gene and me”) add a sly touch of social commentary.

In Lewis’ full-color illustrations, cartoon-style characters are depicted against cool-colored backdrops featuring state shapes, a train, and a few images that make clear the reality of the segregated times. The comic-book design suits the question-and-answer exchanges, which appear in speech bubbles.

The final two pages—one delineating the makeup of the 44 and highlighting their impact, followed by a page that lists the “The Big 44” chronologically from the first recruit in 1959 to the last in 1972—really drive home this important movement. (The men featured in the book are just a few from the group Shanahan calls “The Big 44.”)

This is a worthy acknowledgment of a significant aspect of American sports history.

A look back at the integration of collegiate football.


I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055

Below are links to click on to purchase my books focused.

My books tell the true story of college football integration in the 1960s and address the myths and fiction that allowed a false narrative surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game to usurp the credit from the true pioneers. As I said when I spoke at the National Sports Media Association book festival, no two books provide an accurate portrayal more than RAYE OF LIGHT and THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

I’ll put my facts up against anybody, anytime, anywhere. Watch here.

Click here for my story on the 1962 Rose Bowl and Segregation awarded first place by the Football Writers Association of America. I tell untold stories on Michigan State’s leading role and the true pioneers of college football integration. Click here to read the summary as a first-place story.


Click here to purchase The Right Thing To Do


The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s

Foreword by Ruffin McNeill


Click here to purchase Raye of Light.


Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

Foreword by Tony Dungy


Click here to purchase my children’s book, Bubba’s Dad, Duffy and College Football’s Underground Railroad

The book for now is only a Kindle version on Amazon. Print and audio platforms available soon.


My next children’s book coming soon: How Duffy Put Hawaii on the Football Map


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