The baseball color line took several years to be in full effect, but in the mid-1880’s some players started to refuse to take the field alongside African Americans (Goldman 1). This led to the informal acceptance that African Americans were not allowed to participate in Major League Baseball. The Major Leagues never formally banned blacks, but the Minor Leagues did, so blacks had no way to get to the Major Leagues (Goldman 2). When African Americans were banned from Major League Baseball, they created their own baseball leagues, known as the Negro Leagues (Robinson 71). Several leagues were created, but very few ever grew stability and lasted more than one year.
Baseball came of age in the 1920s when Babe Ruth who passed away in 1948 came into the spotlight and led the power house New York Yankees to several World Series titles. Ruth became a national hero because, his strength of his home runs. After that almost every team had great players. One person a lot of people had their eyes on was someone by the name of Jackie Robinson. The reason many people had their eyes on him was, because he was the first African-American player to play in the Major Leagues.
When Jackie Robinson joined the Major Leagues in 1954, baseball was once again desegregated (Sailer). The complete integration of the league was not as rapid as many would have expected. Economic reasons seemed to be the main reason why African Americans were brought back into the Major Leagues but there were other factors that contributed. John W. Fowler was the first black professional baseball player. He was born a free man in 1854.
Branch Rickey started his baseball career as just a mediocre player at best. (Baseball Hall of Fame) He may not have been the best of players, but he definitely made a huge impact on baseball. Branch Rickey was one of the most important and influential people in forming and shaping the way baseball is today. Branch Rickey created the minor league farm club system, which today gives young players the opportunity to develop and enhance the skills they need to be great. Branch Rickey’s most important contribution to baseball was when he signed Jackie Robinson.
African-American baseball players had been a part of professional baseball when it was first starting in the 1880s. Some black players had signed a contract already with their team, but the International League banned blacks from signing anymore. Blacks that were already under contract were able to finish until it was up, but they were not allowed to renew it. Ever since that, Major League Baseball was a segregated sport until the late 1940s. The major league owners had conspired together and wrote what was called a “gentlemen's agreement” to keep black players out of the game.
Debunking this, Rickey instead retorted that he planned to improve the quality of African American professional baseball. Here, a new African American baseball league, the United States League, was announced. At the press conference, Rickey suggested that Major League teams could potentially recruit the top players from the U.S.L. In his autobiography, Jackie Robinson discusses Rickey and the United States League. Robinson writes that while many people questioned and criticized Rickey’s intentions with the U.S.L., and accused Rickey of actually using the league to keep the Dodgers further away from integration, nobody knew his true intentions.
It is the great American pastime. In the Civil War, the North and south would play a game of baseball after a tough day at war. Jackie Robinson’s crossing the color line in 1947 opened baseball to other African-Americans, but he also opened African-Americans to be able to play football, basketball, and other sports. Baseball is a sport where you must have fun with the game. Baseball will always be remembered in America because it was so popular here.
HISTORY OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES In a more focused sense, the Negro Leagues were an alternative league all in its own. It was primarily established for African Americans so they could play baseball, since they were prohibited from experiencing any type or activity with whites. The reason this league was separate was because of the Jim Crow laws that had been enacted during the early 1900's, but in an opinionated note, I feel that whites simply didn't want to be outdone by their counterparts - African Americans. They basically stated that African Americans could not participate in any activity with whites, whether it is of public or unsocial nature. These laws displayed the mentality of the time, which inevitably filtered into the realm of baseball; at this point, segregation had gone so far as to prohibit any blacks from merely playing baseball with whites.
The Man who Changed it All “In October, of 1945, Branch Ricky, then president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, singed Robinson to play for the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn farm club in the international league. Despite several incidents in spring training in the south and many inconveniences during the season, Robinson,- the first African American ballplayer in that league- excelled as a second baseman and won the league batting crown (Jackie Robinson).” Branch Ricky took a big gamble on Robinson and it paid off big. Jackie Robinson was an amazing athlete who overcame adversity to become the first black to play in the league. Born Jack Roosevelt Robinson, Jackie grew up in California. He stood out as an athlete in high school and college (Jackie Robinson).
Breaking the Racial Barrier in Baseball Although Jackie Robinson was not the best African-American baseball player of his time, his attitude and ability to handle racist harassment led the way for the rest of his race to play Major League Baseball, amongst other sports. Being accepted into professional sports also helped African-Americans become more easily accepted into other aspects of life. Jackie's impact in the world for the black population is enormous. According to Jessie Jackson, "A champion wins a World Series or an Olympic event and is hoisted on the shoulders of the fans. A hero carries the people on his shoulders" (Robinson 3).