Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On the Coffee Table: James Sturm

Title: The Golem's Mighty Swing
Writer and Artist: James Sturm
via Amazon
The Golem's Mighty Swing is a fictional, graphic novel account of a barnstorming Jewish baseball team during the Great Depression.  Noah Strauss is the player-manager for the Stars of David.  The squad faces brutal treatment from fans and foes wherever they go.  In fact, the abuse seems to be part of the attraction.  They sport beards - some real, some not - to appease the stereotype.  Financial straits push them to try a more demeaning gimmick: dressing up their one African American player as a hulking golem, a "Medieval Jewish Monster."

The team name and the beards take their inspiration from the real-life House of David teams, though to classify that cultist operation as "Jewish" would be quite a stretch.  While I can find no historical equivalent to the team in the book, Jewish players banding together not to proselytize but simply to make a living because other teams wouldn't hire them, it's not difficult to imagine that one or two existed.  There were other barnstorming outfits bound by ethnicity: Native Americans, Italians, Irish and, of course, numerous African American teams.

The book was recommended to us by our comic shop clerk who studied under Sturm at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.  It is the first of two baseball books for Sturm, who also wrote and drew Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow.  I'll definitely seek that one out, too.


  1. Sounds like one I'll be giving a pass.

  2. What a fascinating story! I might pick it up for my diversity library at school. Would you recommend it for high schoolers?

    1. Yes, I think so. Definitely an unusual perspective on the time period, even for baseball.

    2. If diversity in baseball takes off for you, I have many other recommendations.