When to Stop the Cheering? the Black Press, the Black Community, and the Integration of Professional Baseball

By Smith, Reed | Journalism History, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

When to Stop the Cheering? the Black Press, the Black Community, and the Integration of Professional Baseball


Smith, Reed, Journalism History


Carroll, Brian. When to Stop the Cheering? The Black Press, the Black Community, and the Integration of Professional Baseball. New York: Routledge, 2007. 271 pp. $95.

When to Stop the Cheering provides important insights into the life and relationship between the black press and Negro league baseball when both thrived during the first half of the twentieth century. Black journalists and black ballplayers and owners were involved in a complex and evolving relationship that began before 1900 and ended in the mid-1950s. The book outlines the multifaceted association that the two entities devised and how the black press chronicled the development, issues related to, and eventual demise of an important element of pride and interest within the black culture in the United States.

The title, 'When to Stop the Cheering, refers to the late 1940s and early 1950s when black sportswriters were forced to decide when to stop promoting the Negro leagues and to acknowledge that the end of the leagues had arrived with the beginning of major league integration. The author built a body of material for this book from previously published articles and work from his doctorial dissertation. He employs an impressive collection of primary and secondary sources to tell the story, including oral histories, black newspapers and magazine archives, manuscripts, and government documents.

The result is an in-depth timeline as well as a virtual Who's Who of black sportswriters and black publications. The first element is significant, but the latter makes this a particularly important historical resource. Men are included here whom many readers will not have heard of, such as Wendell Smith, Dan "Back Door Stuff" Burley, Sam Lacy, "Fay" Young, W Rollo Wilson, and Chester "Sez Ches" Washington. It is enlightening to learn of their role in not just reporting on black baseball but how they criticized its activities (they were not simply cheerleaders) and how they fought for integration of major league baseball. In addition, the author explores the heretofore murky relationship between Negro and major league owners that played out over several decades prior to integration. Carroll also debunks myths about the oppositional baseball leagues' managerial decision-making; Branch Rickey, for example, gets less credit here for being the hero of major league integration.

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