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Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game Hardcover – March 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807048054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807048054
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,245,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)
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 “Ruck’s gutsy account of this major sport with a tarnished past is thought provoking.”—Publishers Weekly

“A fascinating story, unknown even to many diehard baseball fans”—Glenn Altschuler, Florida Courier

“Ruck's study of black and Latino baseball is excellent history and even better sociology… the writing is authoritative and transparent, the documentation solid… Highly recommended. All readers.”—CHOICE

“Rob Ruck’s new book beautifully blends the intertwined histories of African American and Latin baseball, and their usually ill-fated interactions with Major League Baseball.”—The Journal of American History 

"With recent films like 'Sugar' and books like The Bullpen Gospels receiving attention, add Raceball to the list of media and art that's finally telling the full story without the 'Field of Dreams' sugarcoating. If you're a fan of baseball or just a fan of North American history without the white blind spots, this book is highly recommended.”—Amsterdam News

“Thanks to writers like Rob Ruck, we are reminded of the many ways that the politics of race and empire have shaped the game of baseball since its very beginning on the battlefields of the US Civil War. Ruck's Raceball provides an accessible and fascinating narrative of baseball as a transnational sport--propelled by US hegemony as well as anti-colonial aspirations.”—Solidarity.org

“In sum, the book provides a substantive and provocative introduction to an important aspect of the American national pastime and its social, economic and international implications.”—The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History

“Rob Ruck pioneered historical research and writing about black and Latin baseball, and Raceball proves that Ruck remains at the top of his game.”—Brad Snyder, author of A Well-Paid Slave
“Some are well-versed when it comes to the Negro Leagues. Others are aficionados about the rise of Latinos in baseball. But Rob Ruck is one of the few writers who can be called an expert in both fields. Perceptive and insightful, Raceball is a pleasure to read.”—Tim Wendel, author of The New Face of Baseball and High Heat
“Rob Ruck, 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
“Rob Ruck is the ultimate authority when it comes to an in-depth look at Latino baseball in America. Raceball is a profound look at why Latinos have replaced African American baseball players, helping the reader understand the game as a business. Definitely a must-read for those who love the game, regardless of origin, race, or ethnicity.”—Juan Marichal, MLB Hall of Famer
“A seamless mix of sports and politics that educates and entertains in the way that great political writing—and great sports writing—aspires to do.”—Dave Zirin, author of Bad Sports and A People’s History of Sports in the United States

“Rob Ruck writes with passion and precision about the always conflicting ways of American professional baseball, a spectacle for profit that enriches some players at the expense of the vast majority of those who don’t make it. Ruck still loves it, as I do, which makes for the appealing tension of the story he tells.”—Roberto González Echevarría, author of The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball and Cuban Fiestas, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature, Yale University

“Ruck writes for the fan—of baseball and of the compelling, dramatic rendering of history—in this impressive, lively book. He shows how the lines dividing races and nations shaped what happened on the field, enforcing separation, giving way at times to pressure from those wanting to play ball and to play fair, and producing new reflections of the world’s inequalities even as things changed.” —David Roediger, author of How Race Survived U.S. History, Babcock Professor of History at the University of Illinois

“Strongly recommended, like Burgos, above, for avid baseball readers as well as those studying African American or Latino studies.”—Library Journal

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dwood78 on February 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 By maigre on April 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
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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By MikeyOpp on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has it all; it is thoughtfully presented, well researched, interesting to read, and if you love the game, you'll love the insight!
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By dmoore26000 on 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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bama Kayaker on June 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As both a Cuban American and a lover of baseball history, I was eager to read this book. The story of Carribean baseball is undertold, but well represented in folklore and pictures scattered around in places like Key West. Its fascinating to think of the possibilities had baseball followed the example of the winter leagues, where the best players in the world - white, black, and latino - all played on the same fields without worrying about race. Unfortunately, the writer frequently slips into political mode and shows his liberal bias constantly. Callling Casto "left leaning" is a monumental understatement, and he blames the US embargo for the economic situation in Cuba, completely ignoring Castro's alignment with the Soviet Union and its communist principles. While decrying the loss of baseball control for Carribean countries, he signficantly under emphasizes the economic boon that has come to many latin players in the last 50 years - financial opportunities on a magnitude that would NEVER have come to them under communistic systems. To enjoy this book, you'll have to spit out a lot of bones to enjoy the meat....
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