AUBURN – The first program in the Auburn Public Library’s series on baseball will explore the early history of baseball’s major leagues and the legend and truth of baseball’s first American Indian, Louis Sockalexis, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, at the Book Burrow and Caf, 1-B Great Falls Plaza.

Ed Rice, writer and teacher, and a former journalist for the Sun Journal, brings his passion, enthusiasm and knowledge to make baseball, its history and the legend of Louis Sockalexis alive for not only baseball fans but also those who appreciate history and the evolution of the social landscape that we call American.

Several books have been recently published about Sockalexis (1871-1913), a Penoscot from Indian Island, a national sensation in his day and the inspiration for the nickname that Cleveland’s ball club carries today.

Rice’s “Baseball’s First Indian, Louis Sockalexis: Penobscot Legend, Cleveland Indian” is considered by many to be the book that sets the historic record straight.

After nearly two decades of research, Rice, born in Brookline and raised in Bangor, succeeds in separating fact from fiction to tell the story of “The Deerfoot of the Diamond.”

He examines the early rough-and-tumble history of baseball’s major leagues and how newspapers of the day hyped and distorted the games and their players. He uncovers the truth about Sockalexis, whose prowess could have rivaled the likes of Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth. He recreates the world of 19th-century baseball and the story of the man who broke the color barrier 50 years before Jackie Robinson.

The program is the first in the Auburn Public Library’s series on baseball. Coming in March, Sun Journal’s Kalle Oakes takes on the national pastime.

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