Sol White's History of Colored Baseball, with Other Documents on the Early Black Game 1886-1936

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Sol White's History of Colored Baseball, With Other Documents on the Early Black Game 1886-1936. Compiled by Jerry Malloy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995. 187 pp. $26.00 cloth.

This volume reprints Sol White's Official Base Ball Guide: History of Colored Base Ball, originally published in 1907 in Philadelphia, as well as provides eight primary documents related to African-American baseball from 1886 through 1907. Six other documents provide further biographical and chronological information on King Solomon "Sol" White (1868-1955) as well as documentation on nineteenth century black baseball players.

As black baseball's first historian, Sol White recorded and highlighted the first twenty plus years of its fascinating development. This period started with a small but talented number of black players breaking into white minor league baseball and, during the 1884 season of the American Association (then a major league), Moses Fleetwood Walker and his younger brother Weldy Wilberforce Walker played for the Toledo franchise. But these determined black players were going against the gathering forces of racial separatism, segregation and Jim Crow laws. The 1887 season of the International League season (the next level below the major leagues) saw seven black players on six different teams, but by 1889, only Fleet Walker was left and he was ousted by the end of the 1889 season. Some black players managed to play in lower-level minor leagues where prejudice was not as strong, mainly in the midwest and West, and all-black teams played in white leagues or established themselves as successful and popular barnstorming teams like the Page Fence Giants of Adrian, Michigan (1895-1898). But it was clear in the late 1890s, especially after the Plessy V Ferguson Supreme Court decision of 1896, that black players would have to create their own opportunities to play professional baseball and establish their own National Game with its own stars and following. The period before the successful establishment of the Negro National League by Andrew Rube Foster in 1920 was one in which Sol White played a major part and which he observed closely.

As Jerry Malloy's excellent Introduction to this volume documents, Sol White was in an advantageous, remarkable position to become black baseball's first historian. …