The Story of the Negro Leagues Angelica Robinson & Jim Madern Try to imagine post World War II baseball without the black baseball stars.
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Obviously all great black baseball players were not born after 1947 when Jackie Robinson re-integrated major league baseball. They were always there, just required by custom and circumstance to play in their own separate leagues.
This period of separation is remote from the memory of the majority of the current populace. Today’s younger generation, as well as most older generations now, do not fully understand the sociological factors which prohibited black and white baseball players from engaging in competition together.
Baseball was originally a “gentleman’s game” played by members of rival athletic clubs for recreation. In the aftermath of the Civil War, baseball enjoyed a great surge in interest, activity and growth. Americans of all classes, creeds and races joined in the game that became our national pastime.
Baseball was then still an amateur sport and some black Americans played on all-black ball-clubs while others played on integrated teams.
However, black ballplayers were excluded from participation by the National Association of Baseball Players on December 11, 1868 when the governing body voted unanimously to bar “any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons.” This was the first appearance of an official “color line” in baseball.
Two brothers, Moses Fleetwood Walker and Welday Walker, played in the major leagues in 1884. But gradually, black players began to be excluded from the white leagues and by the beginning of the new century, their were no black players in organized baseball.
However, black Americans continued to play baseball. By necessity they played on all-black teams and eventually in all-black leagues. The first black professional team was the Cuban Giants in 1885, but the teams played as independent ball clubs until the first black league was organized in 1920.