EARLY BASEBALL

The baseball world that the young Jackie Robinson knew consisted of "Organized Baseball," a whites-only system of the eight-team National and American Leagues plus hundreds of minor-league teams; and the "Negro Leagues," which developed after 1900 as an alternative to the segregated white game.

-Organized Baseball-

Before 1920 Organized Baseball, segregated since the 1880s, was controlled by individual club owners and a three-man committee representing National and American League interests. The dominant style of play on the field was strong pitching and an aggressice slap-and-dash running game that fit the small ballparks of the time beautifully. After 1920, following the notorious "Black Sox" World Series bribery scandal, a single commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, replaced the three-man commission, power-hitting became the dominant playing style, and ballparks became much bigger. Clubs combed the hinterlands for promising talent, but black and white players only met in rare "barnstorming" exhibition games.

Baseball Segregates Itself

Professor Todd Crosset, University of Massachusetts

John McGraw and the "Marginals"

Professor Ron Story, University of Massachusetts

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers

The "Black Sox"

Members of the Chicago White Sox of 1919 in court with the attorneys...

Charles Comiskey and William Veeck

Charles Comiskey, former baseball great and owner of the Chicago White Sox team...

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth, New York Yankees

Signing in the Thirties

Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians. Feller and others reacted strongly to the "farm system"...

Post-War Barnstorming

Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians. Feller personally organized the black-versus-white...

The Owners and Race

Bill Marshall, University of Kentucky, about Happy Chandler's papers...

-The Negro Leagues-

Developed informally by player-entrepreneurs such as Rube Foster of Chicago, by the 1920s, professional African-American teams existed in most important Northern cities, from New York to Kansas City. Most belonged to either the Negro National League or the Negro American League, although the composition of the leagues varied with the commercial fortunes of the clubs. Players frequently moved form franchise to franchise, and "barnstorming" from town to town was comming. The integration of Organized Baseball ultimately killed the Negro Leagues.

Judy Johnson

Hall of fame third baseman Judy Johnson of the Pittsburgh Crafords. Other famous black...

The Pittsburgh Crawfords 1932

The Pittsburgh Crawfords of 1932, with future Hall of Famers Judy Johnson (3rd base)...

Black Hopes

Buck O'Neil, Negro League first baseman and manager of the Kansas City Monarchs...

Major Leagues vs. Negro Leagues

Buck O'Neil, Negro League 1st baseman and manager, Kansas City Monarchs

Negro League Styles of Plays

Buck O'Neil, Negro League 1st baseman and manager, Kansas City Monarchs

Black Franchises and Opportunity

Professor Bill Sutton, University of Massachusetts

Starting Out

Larry Doby, Cleveland Indians Hall of Famer. In 1947, Doby became the first black American League player.

The Newark Eagles

Larry Doby, Cleveland Indians Hall of Famer. In 1947, Doby became the first black American League player.

Starting With the Eagles

Pitcher Don Newcombe, who with Jackie Robinson and catcher Roy Campanella, comprised...

Learning the Game

Pitcher Don Newcombe, Newark Eagles and Brooklyn Dodgers

Negro League Players

The Sporting News, November 1, 1945

The Negro Leagues

 

EARLY LIFE