This book is a biography of A. Bartlett Giamatti, Yale University’s first non-Anglo-Saxon Protestant president, and Major League Baseball commissioner. It is a story about persistence against forces ugly, embedded, and more pernicious than simply racial and ethnic discrimination, and about the principled embrace of civic duty passed on generationally and used fully as the ethical sword and shield necessary to challenge them. Eugenics, as practiced in America and especially at Yale, locked ethnicity, class, and racial character, those deemed “unfit,” into place. Those beliefs spawned a practical mentality that endured. A. Bartlett Giamatti-scholar, Yale University President, and Major League Baseball commissioner-can be understood only in the context of his family, a history he knew, and Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut where his relatives lived and he was educated and had taught. In 1977, at age 39, Giamatti was named president and was viewed immediately as a radical threat to Yale’s embedded eugenics-driven, Anglo-Saxon mentality. Historian Sean Wilnetz wrote that “Bart Giamatti was a phenomenon who lived the lives of several men even though his own ended tragically early” at 51. Giamatti confirmed his underlying imperative through to the end of his life: “Rest,” he wrote, “will come by never resting.
Biographies and Memoirs