NEGRO LEAGUE HISTORY
Reshaping History for Today
Since the early 1800s baseball has been an important thread in the fabric of America. There is a certain irony in that the single most important event that spread the popularity of baseball was the Civil War, the event which also gave freedom to many African Americans for the first time. When the first professional leagues were organized in the late nineteenth century, African Americans as well as Caucasians excelled at the game.
However, as a sign of the times, Blacks were excluded from the game on every level due to ‘Jim Crow’ laws. Not to be denied participation in what was widely recognized as the national sport of the country, African Americans began to form professional teams during the late 1880s.
In 1920 Andrew ‘Rube’ Foster organized the first Negro National League with teams mostly based in the Midwest. Several other professional leagues were formed and played across the country over the ensuing years. However, the breaking of Major League baseball’s color line in 1947 spelled the beginning of the end for Negro League baseball.
With African American fans understandably shifting their attentions to the exploits of Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn Dodgers) and Larry Doby (Cleveland Indians) and Major League clubs raiding Negro League rosters for talent, Black baseball was simply no longer viable.