Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson

Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson

Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson

Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson

Synopsis

For nearly fifteen years NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture has been a leading scholarly journal of baseball history. Covering the cultural and historical implications of America's national pastime, NINE has explored baseball from the earliest matches and little-known players of the 1800s to the modern billion-dollar industry and its superstars of today. Here, gathered for the first time, are the best essays from NINE that center on the complex and multifaceted topic of African Americans in baseball. This diverse collection offers an enlightening look at African American baseball in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Negro Leagues, and the turmoil surrounding the integration of baseball by Jackie Robinson and others. Influential figures such as the Negro League team owner Effa Manley, the writer Sol White, and the player Don Newcombe are explored, along with Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. The book features an introduction by NINE founder and editor Bill Kirwin. Represented as well are other respected baseball historians, including the late Jerry Malloy, considered by many to be the leading scholar on nineteenth-century black baseball. Out of the Shadows addresses such themes as the importance of baseball to the African American community, the personal hardships faced by early integrators Robinson and Newcombe, the influence of female owners on the Negro Leagues, and the early days of barnstorming before integration, thereby providing a balanced and engaging overview of African American baseball history.

Excerpt

No moment in baseball history is more important than the April day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson stepped onto Ebbets Field, ending a ban that had extended back to 1882 prohibiting African Americans from fully participating in the National Pastime. “Cap” Anson's dictum, in 1882, of “Get that nigger off the field,” referring to the presence of black player Moses Fleetwood Walker on a Major League ground, merely reflected the overwhelming social attitude of the day. But in 1947 baseball no longer followed custom, but changed it. Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson's integration plans went beyond challenging Major League baseball's apartheid policies, their actions set in motion and preceded, by a decade, the actions of the courts and government to rectify the injustice of segregation throughout society in general.

The road to Robinson's appearance at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, was a long, often crooked, and dark one. Partially hidden and ignored by the general population, black baseball emerged as a parallel version of the National Pastime subsisting on the margins of society. Black ball differed from Major League ball in many different ways. The game as played by African American players relied on speed and offered entertainment as a bonus. Rather than the static dependence that Major League baseball placed on power hitting, Negro baseball utilized speed, bunting, and hit-and-run tactics. Attempts to organize various Negro leagues met with limited success. Andrew “Rube” Foster organized the National Negro League (NNL)in 1919. In 1923, the Eastern Colored League (ECL) was formed, resulting in the playing of the first Colored World Series in 1924. The Kansas City Monarchs of the NNL defeated the ECL representative Hillsdale Club of Philadelphia five games to four with one tie. But scheduling was erratic, finances weak, white newspapers ignored game results, and teams were required to continually barnstorm, resulting in fan apathy.

With the onset of the Depression, the lifeblood of black teams depended more and more on owners scheduling barnstorming games against local white nines. Black teams found money and a sort of once-ayear racial acceptance if they came into a town, played the local team, won . . .

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