negro league baseball in America

by Prez Ro, Matteson, IL

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Baseball history was made on April 15, 1947, when second baseman Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the first African American major league baseball player of the modern era. In doing so, Robinson ended approximately eighty years of baseball segregation, also known as the baseball color line. During that time, many believed that blacks and whites should be segregated, even in sports.

The years between the end of the Civil War and the late 1870s, when black athletes were banned by the original National Association of Baseball Players, there were a number of African-American baseball players who played alongside white athletes on minor and major league teams.

By the start of the baseball season in 1890, a "gentlemen's agreement" had been made within the association that would bar black players from participation for the next 55 years.

Because of this agreement, black athletes realized that if they were ever going to play professional ball, they would have to form their own teams. During this time, there were more than 200 all-black independent teams that performed throughout the country. By the end of the World War I black baseball had become one of the top entertainment attractions for urban black populations throughout the country.

These all black teams of the early 1900s spend much of their time on the road, playing sometimes a many as three games a day to make ends meet. In 1919, the Negro National League was organized by Rube Foster as a black-owned and -operated league. Many of the plays in this league were thought to be as good as or better than their white counterpart in the majors.

There was center fielder, James "Cool Papa" Bell (left), who as the story goes, was such a fast runner that he could make it from first to third on a bunt. And in one game, he hit three inside-the-park homeruns.

Another story told of one the greatest pitchers of all time, Leroy "Satchel" Paige (right). His weapon was a blazing fastball. He often promised to strike out the first nine men he faced in a game, and well, as the story goes, he did.
Negro League - 1963 All-Star Game at Comiskey Park

Black baseball's biggest money maker and most popular attraction was the Negro League baseball East-West All-Star games played annually at Chicago's Comiskey Park.

The time to take a second look at integrating professional baseball arrived, as World War II came to a close. African-Americans had proved themselves on the battlefield, and rightfully looking for a more equal share in the American life.




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Negro League - Kansas
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Negro League - Stars
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