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Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game [Kindle Edition]

Rob Ruck
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From an award-winning writer, the first linked history of African Americans and Latinos in Major League Baseball

After peaking at 27 percent of all major leaguers in 1975, African Americans now make up less than one-tenth--a decline unimaginable in other men's pro sports. The number of Latin Americans, by contrast, has exploded to over one-quarter of all major leaguers and roughly half of those playing in the minors. Award-winning historian Rob Ruck not only explains the catalyst for this sea change; he also breaks down the consequences that cut across society. Integration cost black and Caribbean societies control over their own sporting lives, changing the meaning of the sport, but not always for the better. While it channeled black and Latino athletes into major league baseball, integration did little for the communities they left behind.

By looking at this history from the vantage point of black America and the Caribbean, a more complex story comes into focus, one largely missing from traditional narratives of baseball's history. Raceball unveils a fresh and stunning truth: baseball has never been stronger as a business, never weaker as a game.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ruck (The Tropic of Baseball) states the cold, hard facts of the Major Leagues' racist history, its vast economic benefits from the demolition of the once-proud Negro Leagues, and the current Latin player influx in his new book. Ruck, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, explores how baseball fever spread through Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin countries. He traces the forgotten link between the great Negro baseball stars, including Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, and their Caribbean counterparts touring outside the U.S. before appreciative fans in the 1940s. Neither the Negro nor Latin player desired playing stateside because of the rigid Jim Crow laws, until the end of WWII, when America broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson's entry to the big leagues. Ruck's gutsy account of this major sport with a tarnished past is thought provoking, arguing that "the integration of Black America has cost the price of its soul plus a crucial part of its social cohesion." (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


“One of our greatest historians of sport has given us a gift for the ages: a history of baseball that captures its multicultural dynamics in original and profoundly illuminating ways. Synthesizing a lifetime of pathbreaking research, Raceball presents a brilliant new account—in black, white, and brown—of what can no longer be regarded as merely the national game.”
—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship

Product Details

  • File Size: 855 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (March 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,734 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By dwood78
As a of person of color who enjoys baseball, it sadden me to see the sport be given the cold shoulder by Black America. In 1975, more than 1 out of 4 major league players were Black. Today, it's less than 1 out of 10, while the number of Latino players have skyrocketed.

This book explains what led to this. It gives a brief history of baseball in Black & Latin America communities pre-World War II before going in the rise of Jackie Robinson. The author believed that integration has played a part in the eventual fall of the sport in Black America. Prior to which, most Black players played in the Negro League & in with Black-owned teams. In the wake of Robinson's joining the then Brooklyn Dodgers, many major league teams began raiding the Negro League for the best players, leading to the decline of the Black-run league altogether. The book also goes into the Latin side of baseball with the short-lived Mexican Baseball League (which the MLB eventually succeeded in driving out of existence), & the rise of Latino players like Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, who became the 1st great Latino player in the game.

Reading this book, I'm surprised to see a number of things Black players bought to the game like speed & base stealing-both which were very rarely done in the majors pre-integration that are now considered important parts of the game. The book also tries to explain the reasons that baseball has falling out of favor in Black America of which there are many besides integration, of which I'll not going to explain in this review (although MLB deserves some of the blame for this). Despite attends by the majors to reverse this trend, it may be too little too late. All in all, a great read. Well written & well researched. A must for those who want to understand the history of the game in the minority communities as well as the current state of the American pastime.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different and valuable perspective April 16, 2013
By maigre
Before reading Raceball, I thought that there were two eras in baseball, before Jackie Robinson and after. That's true, from a certain perspective. But there are other perspectives, too, which Rob Ruck illuminates engagingly in this history that discusses the social and business aspects of the Negro Leagues, Caribbean baseball and their local cultures along with what became of them and their leaders in the aftermath of the integration of the major leagues. Yes, Jackie Robinson is a pivotal and admirable character in US history. But there's much more to the story than the heroism of Jackie and Branch Rickey, a continuum that the events surrounding 1947 are a part of, but far from all of. Accordingly, Robinson and Rickey are characters in, but not the centerpieces of, this story about race and baseball.

There were thriving Negro and Latin leagues in the US and the Caribbean before the major leagues were integrated. Those communities provided team owners, supporting businesses, stadiums, restaurants, hotels, radio, newspaper coverage and much more. These institutions were integral to the health and identity of the local communities. Ruck fills us in on this world and its lively characters along with some relevant bits of social history. When the majors began to let non-white players in, those leagues withered away in short order. Along with them went those businesses, subcultures and meaningful places in the world for a lot of people. While much was gained by integrating the major leagues, valuable things were lost in the process. The road to progress leaves destruction in its wake. Thankfully, Ruck vividly records for us what was there before that sea change occurred.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Raceball by Ruck January 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had to read Raceball for Professor Ruck's class at the University of Pittsburgh. It was one of the best books I've ever had to read for school and would definitely have read it had I not been in school. Ruck takes an indepth look into the history of black and latino baseball, starting as early as the beginning of the 20th Century with US Soldiers in Latin America, to the Negro National Leagues rise and fall and also looks at how Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have become the talent hubs of today's modern game. Ruck uses a lot of great examples and has a lot of unique insight. You wont be sorry if you pick up this book.
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More About the Author

Rob Ruck, Senior Lecturer in the History Department at the University of Pittsburgh, is the author of Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh, The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic, Rooney: A Sporting Life, and the recently released Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game. His documentary work includes Kings on the Hill: Baseball's Forgotten Men, which won an Emmy for Cultural Programming, and The Republic of Baseball: Dominican Giants of the American Game. He was on the committee that elected eighteen players from the Caribbean and the Negro Leagues to the Hall of Fame in 2006 and recently served as an advisor for Viva Beisbol, the permanent exhibit on Latinos at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. An undergraduate at Yale University, who did his doctoral work at the University of Pittsburgh, Rob lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Maggie Patterson, his co-author for the Rooney book.


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