Montevallo man finishes book on Negro Southern League

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

From 1920 until 1951, the Negro Southern League served as a minor league feeder system for the Negro National League and the Negro American League. Relatively unknown except in small, baseball historian circles, the league produced five future Hall of Famers, including Satchel Paige and Willie Mays.

Bill Plott, a retired professor who taught at the University of Montevallo, and has resided in Montevallo since 1980, recently put out a book called “The Negro Southern League: A Baseball History, 1920-1951” dealing specifically with the oft-marginalized league.

“I’ve been in baseball research for 40 years or more,” Plott said in an interview on June 4. “This (the Negro Southern League) was something no one else did anything with. That’s the fun research, when you have something that’s yours and you can really go at it. This was something I’ve been playing at for years.”

An easy-going personality with kind eyes and white hair that grazes his shoulders, Plott relayed information about his book and the work that went into it on a Montevallo porch with a beer in hand and a smile on his face. The satisfaction of his work shines evident in his eyes.

“I worked real hard for two-and-a-half years after accumulating stuff for decades,” he said with a chuckle.

The work is an academic piece, but does not read like a stuffy, bogged down textbook. It is a “narrative history of the league from its inception with eight teams in major Southern cities until its demise three decades later,” according to a summary of the book on Goodreads.com, and reads almost like a novel.

“You’ve got those academic standards you have to meet,” Plott said. “But they let me write anecdotally, to a great extent. My approach was much more baseball than sociological. Because all of the horrible things have been told over and over, and there’s some in here, but that was not the thrust of it. The thrust of it was some outstanding athletes that no one knew anything about.”

The book has been well-received by reviewers on Amazon.com, with multiple five-star reviews all saying the same thing, that the book is incredibly well-researched, insightful and well-written.

Plott’s book is currently available to purchase on Amazon.com.