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The Rise & Fall of the Great American Pastime in Black America
on February 7, 2012
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.