The Historical Significance Of Negro Baseball Leagues

1147 words - 5 pages

Negro baseball leagues have a deep historical significance. Racism and “Jim Crow” laws encouraged segregation of African-Americans and whites. Arguably, the players on the negro baseball leagues were some of the best ever. Even today they are still being recognized and honored for their wonderful contribution to baseball as a whole. It started when major league owners had made a “gentleman’s agreement” to keep blacks from playing in the game. The barrier that went up was finally broken with a few black players being signed into white teams in the 1940s. It was once said by Martin Luther King Jr., “[Segregation] gives the segregator a false sense of superiority, it gives the segregated a false sense of inferiority.” While that is true of the times and conditions, I tend to believe that the negro baseball players had a different type of pride that kept them strong and helped blacks eventually gain equality. This still affects us as a society because we will always continue to look for equal opportunity.
African-American baseball players had been a part of professional baseball when it was first starting in the 1880s. Some black players had signed a contract already with their team, but the International League banned blacks from signing anymore. Blacks that were already under contract were able to finish until it was up, but they were not allowed to renew it. Ever since that, Major League Baseball was a segregated sport until the late 1940s. The major league owners had conspired together and wrote what was called a “gentlemen's agreement” to keep black players out of the game. This did not stop African-Americans from achieving their goal of playing baseball. They organized their own teams and played “pickup games” with anyone that would play them, until 1920 when they finally organized a negro league.
The negro leagues got started by forming teams. The first all-black team formed in 1894 called the Page Fence Giants was from Michigan. Other teams followed later and traveled throughout the country playing each other in “pickup games”. In 1920, Rube Foster, who had been a pitcher-manager with other teams, organized the first Negro National League. He had financial backing to support the eight teams he organized. The teams consisted of the Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs, St. Louis Giants, and Cuban Stars. With these teams he controlled all the operations from equipment to scheduling games to selling tickets. Foster wanted to add structure to baseball leagues to prove that it didn’t have to be run the way whites do. He also wanted to show white baseball league members that his ideas were good. “The attitude of the white majority was, there is nothing you can possesses that we cannot take away.” ("Negro Leagues." Major League Baseball, 2014. Web. 12 Jan 2014.)
The Negro League players were the best at entertaining the crowd. They would impress the audience by playing an...

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