While some blacks could play on traditionally white teams — especially in the more tolerant North and Midwest — Jim Crow laws and racism prevented them from making significant progress. Every opportunity was missed in 1890 when the National Association of Base Ball (sic) Players turned blacks out of the game. The so-called “gentleman`s agreement” to exclude black teams from organized leagues for the next 50 years was reached to “prevent a certain split in feelings, while excluding them could not hurt anyone.” The official beginning of racial segregation followed the 1867 baseball season. On October 16, the Pennsylvania State Baseball Convention in Harrisburg denied admission to the “colorful” Pythian baseball club. [1] However, this exclusion from white baseball did not mean that African Americans did not play organized baseball. The National Colored Baseball League was founded in the 1880s as a minor league for African-American and Hispanic players. Other regional organizations operated under various titles until the 1920s, when a number of leagues merged to form the Negro National League and the Negro American League, a structure that mirrored the current organization of Major League Baseball. These two black leagues operated at a largely professional level from the 1920s to 1963. Show students the first excerpt from ken Burns` baseball series lesson. Ask them to take notes as they watch.

Next, read the following quotes from African-American journalists who wrote during World War II. They believed that if black citizens could die as soldiers for their country, they should also have equal rights at home, including the right to play professional baseball in the major leagues. After reviewing the clip and quotes, ask students to answer the following questions. (Excerpt from a leaflet with photos of two black men, one a dead soldier and the other a baseball player) Even after Robinson`s signing, baseball elites like Rogers Hornsby opposed the integration of baseball, citing baseball`s cramped lifestyle as the reason African Americans shouldn`t join Major League Baseball teams. Divide your class into two groups. Give both groups the following document #2: Debate. Explain to students that one debate team will argue that black leagues have been a positive development for black Americans, while the other debate team will argue that segregation in the major leagues has increased racial inequality in American society. It`s up to each team to determine which content of document #2 best supports their particular argument. Give the teams time to prepare their positions, after which a debate will take place. Act as a moderator and give each page the same time to present their arguments.

Be sure to emphasize that students must use the material on Document #2 to support their respective positions. Nevertheless, racist thinking persisted and the owners of major league clubs returned to what can only be called a gentleman`s agreement, which bans African-American players in the major league. Although there is no documentation, no contract was extended to African-American players between 1888 and 1945. As the clip and previous debate activities show, the separation of Major League Baseball was a complex issue that divided even members of the black community. Students need to understand that the movement to abolish racial segregation in baseball had been going on for more than a decade before Jackie Robinson entered the Major Leagues. Black journalists, select politicians, members of the Communist Party, and labor unions have all spoken out in favor of abolishing segregation in baseball, holding rallies, and obtaining letters of support from public figures such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. To reinforce this point, have students form small groups to read the following popcorn style document #3 and answer the following questions. “Instead, the board voted to install language at the entrance to the plaque gallery that explains that all the influence Hall of Fame members have had on sports is addressed in the museum`s exhibits,” a museum spokesperson wrote in an email. “The Board of Directors has also requested that our Pride and Passion exhibit, dedicated to the African-American baseball experience, be renamed and enhanced to fully address the history of segregation in baseball, including Cap Anson`s role in establishing the 60-year segregation that preceded Jackie Robinson`s breakthrough of the color barrier in 1947.” Part of Anson`s notoriety comes from a 1907 book about the first black baseball players by black minor league players and later by black semi-professional team manager Sol White, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. White said, “Without the same man Anson, there would have been a player of color in the National League in 1887.” [7] Other historians were even more certain that Anson sowed the seeds that created a field of nightmares for the hopeful black baseball players who eventually gave birth to the negro leagues. Either way, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, never saw fit to add Anson`s most indelible mark on his play to his plate. A year in which several House Democrats wrote a letter to MLB in support of retired star players who had requested that the name of legendary Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis be removed from the sports` MVP trophies because Landis had maintained racial segregation in baseball in the first half of the last century.

To the teacher: Students may suggest that black baseball players were likely to have been disappointed, frustrated, or upset by segregation in professional baseball. However, it should be noted that some former players said they were so used to racial segregation that the situation was not surprising to them. Some described that they were happy to have played the game professionally despite the blatant injustices. On the afternoon of the International League vote, Anson`s Chicago team played the game in Newark listed above, with Stovey and Walker apparently injured sitting. Anson`s biographer Howard W. Rosenberg concluded, “A more accurate argument is that instead of being an architect [of segregation in professional baseball, as the late baseball racism historian Jules Tygiel Anson called him in his Great 1983 Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy], he was an amplifier of it, even in the National League — and that he had no demonstrable influence on changing the course of events. outside the calendar of exhibitions of his team. The year 1887 was also the culmination of the performance of black players in the upper minor leagues, and all National League teams that year, with the exception of Chicago, played friendly games against teams with black players, including Newark and other International League teams. [6] To the teacher: The following quotes show two different perspectives on black leagues.

Rube Foster and Satchel Paige both make valid arguments about what the leagues meant to African Americans. The purpose of this lesson is to show students that Black leagues were a complex historical phenomenon. For example, while Rube Foster`s advocacy may be explained by his financial interest in the negro leagues, he may also have criticized the broader social structures of segregation that limited his ability to be a team owner in a disaggregated league. Throughout the lesson, encourage students to engage in the type of critical thinking that creates space for a variety of perspectives regarding leagues and the broader social context in which they have been integrated. Then, after the final debate, students can arrive at their own in-depth analysis of the Black Leagues and their place in American history. While Black League players certainly made more money than the average American citizen at the time, they earned only a fraction of what their white counterparts earned, regardless of their level of talent. However, it was remarkable because the Pythian players were black and the Olympic players were white. Against each other, they played the first recorded interracial baseball game. The color line, also known as the color barrier, in American baseball excluded players of black African descent from Major League Baseball and affiliated minor leagues until 1947 (with a few notable exceptions from the 19th century, before the line was firmly established). Racial segregation in professional baseball was sometimes called gentlemen`s agreement, which means a tacit agreement since there was no written policy at the highest level of organized baseball, the big leagues. But the vote of an upper minor league in 1887 against admitting new contracts with black players within their league sent a strong signal that eventually led to the demise of blacks from the other minor leagues of the sport later that century, including the lower minors.

Although Jackie Robinson is widely known as the first African-American to play on an all-white Major League Baseball team, in the decades following the founding of professional baseball, a number of black players played alongside whites in minor and major teams. Some of these players have even managed to build relatively long careers during this period. The best black players found tolerance, if not acceptance, in white baseball in the North and Midwest in the 1880s. But that changed dramatically in 1890, when baseball quickly became a national sport. Without a rule or official announcement, a “gentleman`s agreement” had been reached that would cement baseball`s color barrier for the next fifty-five years, and within a few years, no organized baseball team would recruit black players. Image Source: Photo of African-American baseball player, Heywood Pullen Collection, The Ohio Historical Society Anson “wasn`t entirely responsible for more than half a century of racial segregation in baseball,” Husman concluded, “but he has a lot to do with it.