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February 2, 2012

Author of book about Monroe Monarchs baseball team to visit ULM Feb. 13

Another Monroe treasure will be given further tribute Monday, Feb. 13, when noted author Dr. Thomas Aiello, who wrote “The Kings of Casino Park: Black Baseball in the Lost Season of 1932” about the Monroe Monarchs baseball team, visits the University of Louisiana at Monroe campus.

At 10:30 a.m., there will be an opportunity to meet Aiello, also an assistant professor of history and African American studies at Valdosta State University in Georgia, during his appearance at the Passman Room located in Special Collections on the fifth floor of the ULM Library.

Aiello will then present his book talk from 6-7 p.m. on the second floor of the ULM Student Union Building.

“I simply couldn't have written this book without the help of ULM,” Aiello said. “The university's collection of microfilms and the kind help of Special Collections really made this research possible and supplemented work at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse and the Ouachita Parish Public Library Special Collections.

“ULM was absolutely vital to the project. I spent weeks and weeks in the university library.”

He wrote this book to tell the story of the Monroe Monarchs, a national-caliber Negro League baseball team during the 1930s.

At that time, Monroe was a town of about 26,000 people who were struggling with the Great Depression and with race relations.

“I'm so glad that I was able to write about this important piece of Monroe history, but also to be able to work with the librarians at ULM," Aiello said.

"I grew up in Town and Country, in the shadow of NLU, and I am grateful any time I have a chance to return. Even though I didn't attend ULM, my history with the university has always made me feel as though I was a stakeholder in its success. So I am honored to able to collaborate with ULM in any way I can.”

As mentioned in the University of Alabama Press description of the book, “Crowds of black and white fans eagerly filled their segregated grandstand seats to see the players who would become the only World Series team Louisiana would ever generate, and the first from the American South.

“Aiello addresses long-held misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Monarchs’ 1932 season. He tells the almost-unknown story of the team—its time, its fortunes, its hometown—and positions black baseball in the context of American racial discrimination. He illuminates the culture-changing power of a baseball team and the importance of sport in cultural and social history.”

Special Collections is home to the Fred Stovall Collection.

Stovall was the Monarchs owner as well as a successful businessman in the early Monroe oil and gas industry.

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