"Jerry Craft has given us an engaging and finally touching book. It is a story of racial harmony in an era of racial distrust. I highly recommend it." --Larry McMurtry
"A remarkable story of an era in American sports that is long gone, but is still deeply moving. Our White Boy is a riveting read. Some of the details feel like they came straight out of a Hollywood screenwriter's imagination."--Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly
Our White Boy is the story of Jerry Craft, Texas Tech University alumnus, rancher, and former mayor of Jacksboro, Texas, who was the first white man to play in the West Texas Colored League during the summers of 1959 and 1960. A "Jackie Robinson in reverse," Jerry pitched for the Wichita Falls/Graham Stars, and in Our White Boy he recounts his experiences as the first white man in a small, semi-professional, all-black league.
We chose the title Our White Boy because the Stars initially called Jerry "white boy," a term of derision similar to the demeaning term "boy" employed by mid-twentieth century whites when making reference to a black man. When the team started to appreciate Jerry's pitching and ability to win games, they began calling him "our white boy," a term of endearment. Eventually the team's acceptance of Jerry grew to the point that when the black owner of a café in West, Texas, refused to serve Jerry, the entire hungry team left rather than eat what they had already been served to show their support of their white teammate.
Jerry's fascinating story appeals to anyone interested in sports, baseball history, Texas history, memoir, or personal perspectives on the struggle of race relations in the south. Jerry's story is important because while the integration of baseball has received much attention, including numerous books on Jackie Robinson, the reverse integration of baseball in the small towns of west Texas has been overlooked. Although baseball is a highly documented sport (newspaper articles, box scores, books), no written accounts of the West Texas Colored League exist. We documented Jerry's experience so that it would not disappear from Texas history.
Jerry Craft and I started work on this project in the spring of 2005. I have helped him shape his memories into an entertaining and enlightening first-person narrative that includes anecdotes about his baseball experiences growing up in Jacksboro, trying out for the baseball team at Texas Tech University, and overcoming the racial tensions he and his teammates faced to play a game they truly loved together. I have also interviewed Jerry's sole surviving black teammate, Clarence "Rabbit" Myles of Wichita Falls, and Jerry's friend Monroe Henderson, of Fort Worth and Jacksboro, a white player who joined the Stars for a few games during the summer of 1960.
Pat Neff, who served Texas as Governor from 1921-1925 and President of Baylor University from 1932-1947, once wrote, "The preservers of history are as heroic as its makers." Jerry Craft is both a maker and a preserver of history. He is "our white boy", and he wrote Our White Boy. I am proud of the man and the book.--Kathleen Sullivan, January 8, 2010
We are proud to have Texas Tech University Press publish Our White Boy. To order the book, go to