Baseball Was Integrated In 1947 When Jackie Robinson Played For The:

Breaking the Color Line: 1940 to 1946

By the 1940s, organized baseball had been segregated on the basis of race for several years. Several members of the black press, as well as some of their white colleagues, have long advocated for baseball’s integration. Mr. Wendell Smith, of the Pittsburgh Courier, was particularly outspoken. After World War II, many people began to criticize segregation policies as a result of their experiences. The “great experiment” (see Jules Tygiel’sBaseball’s Great Experimentin the bibliography) was started by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey after various persons in major league baseball attempted to remove segregation in the sport without success.

Robinson would go on to play in the major leagues for the first time the following year.

While their own teams were on the road, several owners of major league clubs rented out their stadiums to teams from the National Football League (NFL).

Some business owners were also concerned that a white audience would be hesitant to attend games featuring black athletes.

  1. A speech to the One Hundred Percent Wrong Club in 1956 provided Rickey with an opportunity to reflect on the difficulties he was experiencing and the circumstances that shaped his decisions during this period.
  2. branch rickey He is commemorated on his Hall of Fame plaque for both his role in the development of baseball’s farm system in the 1920s and his signing of Jackie Robinson.
  3. At the time of his employment with the Cardinals, he had been particularly dissatisfied with the team’s policy of denying African-Americans access to grandstand seats.
  4. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, October 31, 1955.) Rickey became a member of the Dodgers in 1942, and he immediately began working on efforts to introduce black players to the organization.
  5. He would also need to be a strong individual who could agree to refrain from engaging in open conflict when confronted with hostility and insults, at least for a period of time.
  6. It wasn’t until 1948 that a presidential decree desegregated the armed services, and it wasn’t until 1954 that the Supreme Court prohibited segregated public schools.
  7. His mother relocated the family to Pasadena, California, in 1920, and Robinson went on to attend John Muir Technical High School and Pasadena Community College before moving to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1930.

As a result, he had gained valuable expertise via participation in integrated sports.

When he was drafted in 1942, he was stationed at military stations in Kansas and Texas.

Robinson was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant shortly after.

The order was found to be in breach of Army regulations, and he was found not guilty.

Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey first met in August 1945 at the Brooklyn Dodgers’ office, after Branch Rickey had scouted a number of players from the NegroLeague.

During the discussion, Rickey disclosed that he wanted Robinson to join the Los Angeles Dodgers’ big league team.

Robinson maintained his calm and agreed to a deal with the Montreal Royals, a Triple-A minor league farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Rickey quickly signed additional black players to contracts, but Robinson remained the center of attention.

Robinson’s signing was reported in both the black and white press.

A letter from Robinson to Rickey was preserved in the Branch Rickey Papers as a response to Rickey.

When Robinson, wearing the number 42 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in April 1947, he became the first player in big league history to do so after a good season in the minor leagues with the Montreal Royals in 1946.

  • Branch Rickey is the manager and owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Harold Rhodenbaugh captured this image (Look staff photographer). “A Branch Grows in Brooklyn,” Look, March 19, 1946, p. 70, contains a photomechanical reproduction of the image. (Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction: LC-USZ62-119888)
  • Jackie Robinson in Kansas City Monarchs uniform. (Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction: LC-USZ62-119888). From the 1945 issue of The Call (Kansas City), a photograph. (From the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.) The Call has granted permission for this reprint. Ordering a reproduction (reproduction number: on order). In 1945, Robinson appeared in 47 games for the Monarchs of the Negro American League, as well as the East-West All-Star game
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Vol. 3, plates 334 and 335, edition copyrighted in 1937
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (updated 1951). Sanborn Map Company is the publisher of this map (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division). EDR Sanborn, Inc. has granted permission for this reprint. Blues Stadium was the home of both the American Association Kansas City Blues and the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs during their respective tenures in Kansas City. The land, which had previously served as a frog pond, swimming hole, and ash heap, was transformed into a baseball field in 1923. A portable lighting system was installed on the field by J. Leslie Wilkinson, the facility’s inaugural owner, so that games in the Negro League could be played at night. Despite the fact that it took two hours to set up, this invention made it impossible for fielders to see fly balls and hitters to see pitches, and it generated so much noise that the center fielders were unable to hear the infielders. Despite the harsh circumstances produced for the players by the night-lighting system, it boosted ticket sales and allowed the Monarchs to survive the Great Depression. At the period from 1923 to 1972, when the last game was played at Blues Stadium, the stadium’s dimensions and fence height altered more frequently than in any other baseball stadium. Jackie Robinson played for the Monarchs in Blues Stadium for a brief period in 1945 before being purchased by Branch Rickey. Lobby card for the documentary The Jackie Robinson Story. Pathe Industries acquired the copyright in 1950. (Library of Congress, Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Reproduction number: LC-USZC4-6146.) Branch Rickey conducts an interview with Jackie Robinson in this scene.

See an extract from the script as well as some lobby cards from “The Jackie Robinson Story.”

Major league baseball integrated in 1947, now it’ll integrate its record book

Jackie Robinson in 1954. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Baseball’s major leagues were reintegrated in 1947, 60 years after it had been separated. Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play in the majors. Now, more than 73 years after Robinson’s debut, Major League Baseball is integrating his record book into its system. On December 16, the Major League Baseball announced that the records of the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1948 will be considered major league records, on par with the records of the National and American Leagues.

Despite his brief Negro League career, his 311 batting average in 4,877 at-bats, 134 home runs, 734 runs batted in, and 197 stolen bases, along with his historic role in breaching the color line, will remain tethered to his short Negro League career for the Kansas City Monarchs in the record books.

  • He hit a fantastic home run in his 58 at-bats.
  • Branch Rickey, then the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Robinson, a multi-sport star of African descent, to a contract with the team.
  • He was on the team for ten years.
  • In his role as sports editor of the Worker from 1935 until 1958, Lester “Red” Rodney advocated for integration as a political cause.
  • Now, even if the Negro League stats are insufficient, they will be included in baseball’s official record book.
  • For example, throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, the strikeouts of batters were not recorded.
  • The career of famous pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige serves as an example of the record gaps in the Negro League.

He spent the most of his time in the bullpen.

Of course, Satch—as everyone referred to him—didn’t make his major league debut until he was 42 years old, on the same day he turned 42.

In the years before that, Satch was a powerful starting pitcher and a big attraction in the Negro Leagues and on barnstorming tours, when he regularly defeated white players who were far inferior to him.

Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox was the first Hall of Famer to make his case, and he was a white man.

146-64 won-loss record, 40 shutouts, 1,620 strikeouts in 1,828 innings, according to Baseball-Reference.com, are among Satch’s accomplishments.

There are also some discrepancies in those figures.

Satch’s record will be entered into the major leagues’ records after the numbers have been straightened out.

For example, the late baseball owner Bill Veeck, who signed Satch for the Cleveland Indians in 1948, claimed that one of the finest games he had seen was when Satch outpitched future Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean, who was of African-American descent.

Despite the gaps and the objections of traditionalists, MLB decided to go forward with its decision anyhow.

MLB still has two areas to contend with, however: the players on the field and the executives in the front offices and management positions of the organization.

Black players account for only 8 percent of total players in comparison to the 13 percent Black population of the United States.

Kim Ng, an Asian-American, has been chosen general manager of the Miami Marlins, making her the league’s first female general manager.

Read about the history of the Daily Worker’s campaign to integrate baseball in Al Neal’s chapter, “First to Start the Fight: Communism, the Daily Worker, and Baseball,” in the new bookFAITH IN THE MASSES, available from International Publishers, written by PW Sportswriter Al Neal.

Baseball Integration, 1947-1986 – Society for American Baseball Research

A celebration was held in early 2007 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which marked the end of a sixty-year prohibition on black players in the big leagues. The narrative of Robinson and the brave men who followed his example and contributed to revolutionize the game has been recounted many times and brilliantly throughout the course of the following decades. The tale tends to center on the moral and ethical ramifications of baseball’s integration, the avenging of baseball’s greatest injustice, as well as the trials and tribulations faced by the brave men who were at the forefront of the movement.

  1. Aside from the fact that Jackie Robinson benefited baseball in terms of its ethical and moral standing (which is significant), Robinson also improved baseball because he was a brilliant player, and his playing time was obtained at the expense of someone who was a worse player.
  2. In the late 1960s, I began following baseball, a generation after Robinson had done so.
  3. In reality, many of the finest players seemed to be black guys, people who would not have been allowed to compete 25 years before because of social and political restrictions.
  4. For example, few clubs had black utility infielders, according to commentators of the time.
  5. Associated link: Check out “Baseball Demographics, 1947-2016,” written by Mark Armour and Dan Levitt, for an updated version of this research.

A color line was never acknowledged, let alone specified, in the case of the so-called “color line.” Others could be interested in discriminating between African-American players and dark-skinned Latinos, and certain players might be considered “bi-racial” in today’s culture, as certain players are.

  • It was merely a matter of determining which players would not have been allowed to participate in games during the period in which black players were barred from participating.
  • Lou Brock is of African descent, Al Kaline is not of African descent, and so forth.
  • As a last point of clarification, when I refer to “black” players in this study, I am referring to any player who would have been barred from participating in big league baseball prior to 1947.
  • At the end of the day, I made a determination for every player that participated in this 40-year span, a total of 5490 people.
  • Put all of these players into a database, and I can answer any number of questions about them.
  • How quickly did the integration process move forward?
  • The number grew slowly at first, but picked up speed in the mid-1950s and was still increasing at the conclusion of this 40-year span.
  • According to recent surveys, the figure is currently greater than 30%.
  • This is part of what I was looking for, however the graph provides equal weight to all of the players, including Willie Mays and Julio Gotay.
  • What was the level of integration among the All-Star teams?

2: A diagrammatic representation of a diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation In Figure 2, the solid line depicts the proportion of black players on major league rosters once more, while the new line depicts the percentage of black players on the two mid-season all-star teams for the first time.

  • In this graph, it is abundantly visible that there were far more black players on all-star teams than one would predict if all-stars were dispersed in a random manner.
  • Given the general ratio of black players in the majors, it would have been reasonable to assume around 11 of the 53 players on the all-star teams to be black; nevertheless, there were actually 20 black players on the all-star teams.
  • Of fact, all-star teams do not offer an exact depiction of the top players on the field.
  • Was there a true star player in baseball, and who was the most valuable player in terms of production and value?
  • How many of the “actual” outstanding players were of African-American descent?
  • This technique is particularly well suited for investigating big groups of players.
  • A player with 20 Win Shares, according to James, had a season of star-caliber performance.

In fact, the number of 20 Win Share seasons in a league is comparable to the size of All-Star rosters, which was about 20 or 25 in the 1950s and approximately 35 today with greater league sizes.

Returning to 1965, black players accounted for 20 percent of club rosters and a whopping 44 percent of the “top” players in baseball at that time.

From a different point of view, the disparity is much more pronounced.

What was the overall value of the contributions made by Black players?

In order to answer this question, I added up all of the Win Shares earned by black players and estimated what proportion of total Win Shares these guys accounted for in the overall results.

The solid line depicts the percentage of black players in the major leagues, while the dotted line depicts the value that they were bringing to their respective teams.

As an aside, it is ironic that many people consider baseball post-1960 as diluted by expansion, even as this great talent source was finally being mined.

Baseball in the 1960s had 25 percent more teams (20 versus 16), but the addition of black players easily accounts for that increase, even as blacks likely remained underrepresented.

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In fact, although they got closer, there remained a significant gap in 1986, strongly suggesting that lesser skilled black players still had a tougher time getting work.

How large was the difference between the two leagues?

Figure 5: American League Figure 5 shows the percentage of American League players who were black (solid line), the percentage of star players who were black (dashed line), and the overall value of the black players.

During the late 1960s, however, as the American League became more fully integrated, black stars began to make up larger percentage of the talent base than suggested by their numbers alone.

Figure 6: National League By the early 1960s, half of the stars in the league were black, and the number was over 60 percent by 1967.

Finally, one can just plot the difference in the value of the black player in the two leagues.

The NL had a small advantage in the early years of integration, but their edge grew rapidly in the late 1950s and remained strong into the early 1970s.

In the National League they accounted for roughly 30 percent of the league’s player value by 1961, more than 15 percentage points ahead of that achieved in the less integrated junior circuit–a gap that persisted for the next decade.

Why did the leagues take different paths in this area?

In the National League, the Dodgers provided a model of excellence for the other teams to follow, and first the Giants and Braves, and later the Cardinals brought in black players and became consistently competitive.

How about the top-flight stars, the future Hall of Famers?

Rather than using percentages, I focused on the number of these players who were performing in each league.

Figure 8 In 1947, each league had a single Hall of Famer—Jackie Robinson, and Larry Doby.

Meanwhile, the NL added a new Hall of Famer nearly every season, until 1965 when their gap on the Americans was 15-0.

It should be noted that the players represented on this chart were all top-flight stars.

Furthermore, if one removed the contributions of the 15 National League Hall of Famers from 1965, the remaining black players in the NL still accumulated more Win Shares than their AL counterparts.

What can one conclude about the talent levels in the two leagues?

If you add up the Win Shares of the players in the two leagues they will be exactly equal, because Win Shares begins with the assumption that the two leagues are the same—Win Shares is a parsing out of credit for all of the wins a team achieves.

More specifically, in order for the leagues to be of equivalent strength in the 1960s, white American Leaguers would have had to be much better than white National Leaguers in order for them to be of comparable strength.

If we go back to 1965, who were the finest players in the American League, regardless of race or ethnicity?

Rocky Colavito, Brooks Robinson, Curt Blefary, and Jim Hall were among the top white players in the American League that year, according to the list below.

How much better could they have been than the rest of the NL?

However, I believe that we should all treat comparisons of, for example, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle with a grain of salt since they do not take into account the vast differences in quality between the two leagues.

Meanwhile, Willie Mays had to battle against a crowded field of superstars in order to earn only two MVP awards.

How much did the black players contribute to the improvement of the game?

While not without flaws, this argument is compelling in its own right.

Consider the game of the 1960s without the presence of its great black players as a counter-example to this.

A generation ago, players like Harmon Killebrew, Ron Santo, and Norm Cash would have been considered superstars, and baseball fans who were solely or largely focused on the white major leagues would not have been aware that there were better players who were unable to participate.

What would baseball have been like in 1965 if Willie Mays and the other 27 African-American players hadn’t been there?

It would have been comparable, I believe, to the baseball game that took place in 1946. It should be noted that this paper was initially published as “The Effects of Integration” in Jim Charlton (editor), Baseball Research Journal 36 in the year 2000. (SABR, 2007).

  • A celebration was held in early 2007 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which marked the end of a sixty-year ban on black players in the major leagues. It has been told many times and in many ways over the years about Robinson and his brave men who followed his example and helped to change the game. The moral and ethical implications of baseball’s integration, as well as the avenging of baseball’s greatest wrong, are frequently the primary focus of the narrative, which also includes the trials and tribulations endured by the brave men who led the charge. In this study, which begins in 1947, the authors are not concerned with social justice or heroism, but rather with the effect of integration on the level of competition on the field. Aside from the fact that Jackie Robinson improved baseball in terms of its ethical and moral standing (which is significant), Robinson also improved baseball because he was a great player, and his playing time came at the expense of someone who was a less talented player. A vast new pool of baseball talent opened up as a result of Robinson’s efforts, and that talent could not help but improve the game significantly. It was in the late 1960s that I first became interested in baseball, a generation after Jackie Robinson. In my experience, the baseball I grew up with was successfully integrated. Even more striking, many of the most talented athletes appear to have been African-American men, individuals who would not have been able to compete 25 years ago. It was still difficult for a black man to make a team if he was not a star, according to commentators of the day and the occasional outspoken player. For example, few teams had black utility infielders, according to commentators of the time. The fact that I had been thinking about this for forty years prompted me to investigate whether it was true. Here’s another useful resource for you: Check out “Baseball Demographics, 1947-2016,” written by Mark Armour and Dan Levitt, for an updated version of this research. Finding which players were “black” and which were not was the first and ultimately most difficult step in this investigation. Despite repeated requests, the so-called “color line” was never acknowledged, let alone defined. For other purposes, one might be interested in distinguishing between African-American players and dark-skinned Latinos, and in today’s culture, we would refer to certain players as “bi-racial.” Such distinctions are superfluous for the purposes of this discussion. Just figuring out which players would have been unable to participate in games during the time period when black players were barred from participating was all that was required. Determination is straightforward for the vast majority of players. Lou Brock is of African descent, Al Kaline is not of African descent, and so forth. It was necessary to track down photographs or baseball cards of players I could not recall or who I had never heard of before, or to enlist the assistance of other SABR members, in order to complete the rosters. As a final point of clarification, when I refer to “black” players in this study, I am referring to any player who would have been barred from participating in major league baseball before 1947. I do not claim that this is an exact science, but the types of questions I am attempting to answer here would not be influenced by the misidentification of a few key players in the process. At the end of the day, I made a determination for every player who participated in this 40-year period, a total of 5490 individuals. There were 933 black players during this time period, beginning with Jackie Robinson in 1947 and ending with Ruben Rodriguez, who caught two games for the Pirates in September of 1986, according to my findings. I can answer any number of questions by putting all of these players into a database. Some of these are presented below. Approximately how fast did the process of integration move forward? Figure 1 shows an example of a Figure 1 depicts the percentage of major league players who were black during a given season in the major leagues. The number grew slowly at first, but picked up speed in the mid-1950s and was still increasing by the end of this 40-year period. After accounting for 10 percent of rosters in 1958, black players increased to 20 percent in 1965 and 28 percent in 1986, according to the National Football League. The number, according to recent studies, is now greater than 30%. (to reiterate, I am including dark-skinned Latinos as well as African-American players). The fact that all players, including Willie Mays and Julio Gotay, are given equal weight is part of what I was looking for. It was then necessary to distinguish between quantity and quality. To what extent were the All-Star teams representative of their respective sports? Fig. 2: A diagrammatic representation of a diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation of the diagrammatic representation FIGURE 2: The solid line depicts the proportion of black players on major league rosters once again, while the new line depicts the percentage of black players on the two mid-season all-star teams for the first time. This graph plainly demonstrates that there were far more black players on all-star teams than one would predict if all-stars were distributed in a random fashion. Despite the fact that black players were just 20% of the total in 1965, they constituted 38% of the all-stars. Given the general ratio of black players in the majors, it would have been reasonable to assume around 11 of the 53 players on the all-star teams to be black
  • Nevertheless, there were actually 20 black players on the all-star squad. This disparity was extremely widespread over the time period under consideration, as seen by the graph. It goes without saying that all-star teams do not accurately reflect the top players. The all-star rosters must have at least one player from each club, as well as a balance of positions, in addition to the human biases that influence the selection process. But what we really want to know is: who were the true star players in baseball, and who were the ones who were adding the greatest value to their teams? Who were the “actual” star players, and how many of them were African-American? Bill James devised a mechanism called Win Shares that distributes team victories among individual players. This technique is particularly well suited for investigating big groups of players. One may always disagree with some of the individual components of the fairly complicated algorithm, but when aggregating 5500 players across 40 seasons, one would expect any disparities to balance themselves out. A player with 20 Win Shares, according to James, is considered to have had a star-quality season. Even in the case of 19 Win Share seasons that are better than 22 Win Share seasons, these anomalies are of minimal consequence when compared to the thousands of player seasons that have occurred. In fact, the number of 20 Win Share seasons in a league is comparable to the size of All-Star rosters, which was about 20 or 25 in the 1950s and approximately 35 in today’s greater league sizes. Figuratively speaking, Figure 3 shows Contrasting with the results of the previous figure, Figure 3 demonstrates that the “actual” outstanding players were even more likely to be African-American than the players on the All-Star teams. Rewinding to 1965, black players accounted for 20 percent of club rosters and a whopping 44 percent of baseball’s “star” players. Because these findings are replicated to some extent for the majority of the seasons during the past two decades, this is not an abnormal season. This disparity is much more apparent when seen from a different position. 6.4 percent of white major league players (36 out of 562) were stars in 1965, however 20 percent of black major league players (28 out of 140) were stars, a threefold increase in the proportion of black star players. Is it possible to estimate how much the African-American players contributed in total? A more detailed approach of examining the contributions of black players is to determine how much value the entire group was giving in terms of overall value creation. In order to answer this question, I added up all of the Win Shares earned by black players and estimated what percentage of the overall Win Shares these men contributed. Figuratively speaking, the fourth figure represents It appears that black players were continually performing more than their fair share of the labor, as seen by the prior two graphs (see Figure 4). The solid line depicts the proportion of black players in the major leagues, while the dotted line depicts the value that they were bringing to the table. The value of black players increased from 20 percent of major league players in 1965 to 28 percent of the pool’s total worth in 1965, a significant increase when considering the pool’s total size at the time. As an aside, it is odd that many people regard baseball after 1960 as having been diluted by expansion at the same time that this tremendous talent pool was finally being harvested. If 28 percent of the league’s talent was denied the opportunity to compete a generation ago, how likely is it that the game was of worse quality? Baseball had 25 percent more teams in the 1960s (20 vs 16), but the addition of black players easily accounted for that rise, despite the fact that blacks were likely still underrepresented in the sport. As I extended the time span of my investigation, I anticipated that the two lines in Figure 4 would come together. In fact, despite the fact that they were growing closer, there was still a substantial disparity in 1986, clearly implying that less competent black musicians were still having a difficult time finding jobs. It would be fascinating to examine how this tendency has changed over the course of the last two decades. What was the magnitude of the disparity between the two leagues? Consider the American League, which will be discussed more below. The American League is depicted in Figure 5. Figure 5 depicts the proportion of African-American players in the American League (solid line), the percentage of African-American star players in the American League (dashed line), and the total worth of the African-American players. Except for a few years in the middle of the 1950s, black players in the American League performed nearly as well as one would anticipate given their proportionate percentage of the league’s rosters until the mid-1960s, when the league’s integration was complete. The American League began to completely integrate in the late 1960s, and as a result, black stars began to make up a higher part of the skill pool than would be implied by their numbers alone during that time period. This is seen in Figure 6, which depicts the National League’s remarkable turn of events. Figure 6: National League of the United States By the early 1960s, more than half of the league’s stars were African-American, and the percentage had risen to more than 60% by 1967. The National League (NL) was largely responsible for the significant impact of the star players seen in Figure 3
  • The American League (AL) did not begin to field many black stars until the late 1960s. At the end of the day, all one has to do is plot the difference in the worth of the black player between the two leagues. Figure 7 (top) Instead of plotting lines for the two leagues, we examine the difference in the worth of each league’s black players after removing the American League portion from its National League share in Figure 7. Early on in the integration process, the Netherlands enjoyed a little advantage
  • Nevertheless, their advantage rose dramatically in the late 1950s and remained strong until the early 1970s. This graph demonstrates the National League’s greater capacity to not only discover black players, but also to find the greatest black players in the league. By 1961, they accounted for around 30 percent of the league’s player value, which was more than 15 percentage points more than the figure obtained in the less integrated junior circuit–a disparity that continued for the following decade. To put it another way, the difference between the two leagues was around 40 Win Shares per club, which is equivalent to a peak-level Willie Mays campaign. What was the reason for the disparity in approaches across the leagues in this area? Teams mimicking the top clubs in their league, for example, may be an easy solution. In the National League, the Dodgers served as an example of greatness for the other teams to emulate, and clubs such as the Giants, Braves, and eventually the Cardinals followed their lead and were regularly competitive after bringing in black players. In the American League, the New York Yankees won every year despite receiving very little assistance from African-American players. What about the future Hall of Famers, the top-tier talents of the game? I’ll wrap things off with a look at the future Hall of Famers, those who have made it big in their careers. Rather than using percentages, I concentrated on the amount of these players who were performing well in each league, rather than the total number of players. For the sake of this chart, I have left out Satchel Paige and Willard Brown, two deserving Hall of Famers who were inducted into the Hall of Fame for their outstanding accomplishments outside of the big leagues but were not included in the major leagues. Image number eight (figure eight). In 1947, each league had a single Hall of Famer: Jackie Robinson of the National Football League and Larry Doby of the American Football League. Doby was the only African-American player in the American League until his retirement in 1959, after which there were no black Hall of Famers in the AL for the next six seasons. Meanwhile, the National League inducted a new Hall of Famer practically every season until 1965, when they had a 15-0 lead over the Americans. In 1966, Frank Robinson was moved to the Baltimore Orioles, closing the deficit to 14-1. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he instantly established himself as the top player in the American League, capturing the Triple Crown. It should be emphasized that all of the players listed on this chart were considered to be top-tier performers. As a result of the Veterans Committee, the so-called “back door” into the Hall of Fame, just two black players (Larry Doby and Orlando Cepeda) have been admitted, as well as a number of white players, during this time period. Furthermore, even after accounting for the contributions of the 15 National League Hall of Famers who played in 1965, the remaining black players in the NL still amassed more Win Shares than their counterparts in the American Association. The National League’s power extends beyond its superstars. What conclusions may be drawn regarding the relative levels of talent in the two leagues? Win Shares is insufficient for providing a clear response to a query like this. You may compare the Win Shares of players in two leagues and find that they are precisely same because Win Shares is based on the premise that both leagues are equal—Win Shares is a method of allocating credit to a team based on how many victories they have. Because each league has the same number of victories, each league will have the same number of Win Shares as well. More specifically, in order for the leagues to be of equivalent strength in the 1960s, white American Leaguers would have had to be much better than white National Leaguers in order for them to be on par. Is it possible that this is accurate? Who were the finest players in the American League in 1965, regardless of race or ethnicity? According to Win Shares, the league’s finest players were Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles (who earned the league’s MVP title), and Don Buford, all of whom were outstanding African-American athletes. Rocky Colavito, Brooks Robinson, Curt Blefary, and Jim Hall were among the finest white players in the American League that year, according to the rankings. How much better could they have been than Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Pete Rose, Jim Bunning, and Ron Santo, all of whom had outstanding seasons in the National League that year? How much better could they have been than the rest of the NL that season? Although this is not proof, it does demonstrate the point. Comparisons of players, like as Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, that do not take into account the difference in quality between the two leagues, should, in my opinion, be treated with caution. In 1962, according to Win Shares, Mickey Mantle was deserving of his third MVP Award, having defeated Norm Siebern and Floyd Robinson. Meanwhile, Willie Mays had to battle against a crowded field of superstars in order to earn only two Most Valuable Players awards. A change of leagues may have allowed him to win every year. Was there a significant improvement in the game as a result of the black players’ participation? One of the most often cited arguments in support of inducting players from the Negro Leagues into the Hall of Fame is the fact that there were just as many outstanding black players playing before 1947 as there were after. While there are certain flaws in this argument, it is a strong one nonetheless. According to one school of thought, players such as Willie Mays and Frank Robinson were active in the 1930s and should be recognized in the same way that their successors have been since then. Taking the game of the 1960s without its great black players as an example, one might make an analogous argument. In my opinion, baseball in the 1930s was analogous to baseball in the 1960s, assuming that all black players were eliminated from the game in some fashion. If segregation had continued for another generation, players such as Harmon Killebrew, Ron Santo, and Norm Cash would have been the superstars, and baseball fans who were solely or largely focused on the white major leagues would not have known that there were better players who were unable to play because of their race. In the absence of those amazing players who changed the game, Mays, Aaron, and Clemente would have remained in the shadows of baseball history, and we would be wondering today whether they truly could have competed in the big major leagues. Consider the impact that Willie Mays and the other 27 African-American players had on baseball in 1965. There is no denying that it might have been far worse. As an example, I believe that the baseball game played in 1946 would have been equivalent. Take note that this piece appeared in Jim Charlton (editor), Baseball Research Journal 36 under the title “The Effects of Integration” (SABR, 2007).
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Sources For this study, the majority of the information was acquired by hand, through the examination of baseball cards and hundreds of photographs available on the internet. A large number of SABR members contributed to my ability to determine the “race” of the 5490 participants, but I’d like to specifically acknowledge three: Rick Swaine and Steve Treder have each been working on research that overlaps with what I provide here, and they have both been generous with their results; and Bill Hickman has discovered photographs of several of the most obscure players from this era who had previously evaded me.

As soon as I had determined which players were black, Dan Levitt gave me with year-by-year Win Shares totals for each of my players, and (as has become customary for him), he assisted me in thinking through many of the ideas presented in this article.

When Did Jackie Robinson Integrate Baseball and Why Is It Important

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play professional baseball in the United States. He went 0 for 3 on the night. He reached base once and scored a run in a win for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In terms of the statistical record, this wasn’t the most auspicious of debuts. The fact that Robinson made his debut at all was the most significant achievement of the day. In 1947, the United States was still legally segregated across the southern states, and tradition and custom continued to separate most of the rest of the country as a result.

It was practically hard to imagine that any of these rules, conventions, or institutions would be altered in the near future.

As impressive as Robinson’s first season was, it had been years in the making and would have repercussions that would go way beyond that year.

Early Years

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, in the year 1919. He was the son of a sharecropper and the grandson of a slave, and he came from a poor family. Since slavery, the position of African-Americans in the southern United States had remained mostly unchanged. Even though there was freedom, African-Americans were denied the ability to vote in an almost unanimous fashion. Almost twenty-five years had passed since the Supreme Court decision that established “separate but equal” as the law of the nation, and the concept had been firmly entrenched in the state of Georgia.

  • His mother relocated Jackie and his five brothers and sisters to Pasadena, California, in the hopes of finding a better life for the family of six.
  • At order to be near to his family, he enrolled in Pasadena Junior College while still in high school.
  • Robinson was a strong athlete in a variety of sports, including track and field, football, basketball, and baseball, among others.
  • He took on a variety of professions, including playing football in a semi-professional league, where he put his talents to good use.
  • Robinson was recruited into the army in 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent admission of the United States into World War II.
  • An incident during Robinson’s military service foreshadowed his later involvement in civil rights activism.
  • In contrast to baseball, the Army did not formally bar African-Americans from participating in OCS.
  • Robinson and his comrades were accepted into the organization.
  • Robinson was subjected to discrimination even while serving as an officer in the army.

He was brought before a court martial on charges of disobedience and insubordination. Eventually, he was found not guilty of all charges against him, and he was discharged from the army later that year with an honorable discharge.

Getting the Call

Following his discharge from the army, Robinson sought for employment opportunities that would allow him to use his athletic abilities to their full potential. The Kansas City Monarchs, one of the most successful organizations in the Negro Leagues at the time, signed him as a free agent in 1945. He was a competent player on a squad that had several excellent players. After the death of Kenesaw Landis, the first commissioner of baseball, in 1944, the concept of integrating the Major Leagues gained momentum.

  • Rickey wasn’t only seeking for the best player on the field; he was also looking for someone who would be able to deal with the pressure and opposition that would come with becoming the first African-American to break the color line in professional sports.
  • Rickey was impressed by his history of restrained dissent, which included permitting protests and the legal system to determine his destiny in the Army.
  • Robinson was a well-educated, smart, and motivated young man who had shown courage and determination in the face of adversity.
  • Rickey got things started by giving Robinson a position in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ minor league system.
  • Because of his talent and the severity of the Negro Leagues, Robinson was assigned to the Dodgers’ top minor league club, the Montreal Royals, to begin his professional baseball career.
  • Robison led the Royals to a championship season in the International League, when he was named the league’s top batter and earned the league hitting title.

First Season

During the 1947 spring training season, there were rumors flying about. The Brooklyn Dodgers were planning to elevate Jackie Robinson from the minor leagues to the major leagues, maybe at the start of the season or later in the year, depending on his performance. Whether or not he would be willing to share the field with a black guy was a contentious issue among the white players in the league and on his own club. Two days before the start of the season, several Dodgers had decided to boycott the game and refuse to take the field with Robinson in support of Robinson.

  1. After going hitless in his first game of the season, Robinson was able to settle into the season, batting.300 for the most of the season and leading the club in home runs, steals, and total bases.
  2. Robinson’s debut had an almost instantaneous impact on the whole baseball community.
  3. In 1947, Willard Brown and Henry Thompson were both called up to the St.
  4. As a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1948, Dan Bankhead had three appearances.
  5. The color line was retreating into the past, but racial intolerance and prejudice were still prevalent.
  6. Verbal abuse, physical threats, and real violence were all widespread, as was the use of force.

The Dodgers and Robinson also received hate mail, with one piece of mail threatening Robinson if he played at a visiting field while on the road. In the midst of it all, Robinson retained his poise and elegance of character.

Legacy

Jackie and Rachel Robinson are a couple from New York City. Robinson was a professional baseball player for a total of ten seasons. His career came to an end in the fall of 1956 when the Dodgers moved him to the New York Giants and he refused to report to the new team, thereby terminating his baseball career. When he retired, 13 of the 16 big league teams had integrated their rosters at the time of his retirement. Six African-American players who played in the big leagues during the first wave of African-American players to reach the major leagues were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame, including Monte Irvin, Ernie Banks, and Willie Mays.

  1. The Los Angeles Dodgers retired his uniform number 42 in 1972.
  2. In terms of both sports and society, Robinson and the integration of baseball were trailblazers, not just in sports but also in society.
  3. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision that brought segregation in public education to an end, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955), which many consider to be the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.
  4. Despite the fact that progress had been made, it was sluggish and unproductive.
  5. Despite having a successful business and broadcasting career, Robinson remained actively involved in the community throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
  6. In 1962, he delivered a speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Council, and he was there at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
  7. He backed Richard Nixon in 1960, but he believed that President John F.
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Barry Goldwater resigned from the Republican Party when the party nominated him for president in 1964.

Unfortunately, it was just for a brief period of time.

He was 53 years old at the time.

Not only was he the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues, but he did so in the most difficult of circumstances.

Throughout his playing career and even beyond, he was a staunch opponent of racism.

With his Major League debut, Jackie Robinson’s campaign against prejudice and injustice had only just begun; in fact, it had only just begun. His distinguished professional career, as well as his subsequent advocacy, distinguish him as a hero.

Suggested Readings

Two Pioneers: How Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson Transformed Baseball – and America, by Robert Cottrell, published by Potomac Books in 2012. University of Nebraska Press published Chris Lamb’s book, Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball in 2012. Ballantine Books published a biography of Jackie Robinson, written by Arnold Rampersad, in 1998.

Bibliography

J. Tygiel is a writer who lives in New York City (1983). Baseball’s grand experiment: Jackie Robinson and his legacy, published by Oxford University Press in New York. R. Peterson, et al (1970) Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams is a book on the history of legendary black players and all-black professional teams. Oxford University Press is based in New York. A. E. Gurevitz, A. E. Gurevitz (2015). “Breaking Baseball’s Color Line” is the title of this article.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow . Jim Crow Stories . Jackie Robinson Integrates Baseball

In a letter to the editor, J. Tygiel writes: (1983). New York: Oxford University Press, “Baseball’s grand experiment: Jackie Robinson and his legacy.” (Richard) Peterson (1970) Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams is a book on the history of legendary black players and all-black professional teams written by a group of black writers. The Oxford University Press, New York, is a publishing house that specializes in academic publications.

E.

Making Baseball’s Color Line a Disappearing Act,” The New York Times said.

Crossing the Color Barrier: Jackie Robinson and the Men Who Integrated Major League Baseball

The Brooklyn Dodgers played their first game of the 1947 season against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947. In the starting lineup at first base was Jack Roosevelt Robinson, a 28-year-old African American who went by the moniker of Roosevelt. After throwing the first pitch of the game, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in the contemporary major leagues, breaking the color barrier that had existed in baseball for more than half a century and representing the racial integration of American society.

Larry Doby, Henry Thompson, Willard Brown, and Dan Bankhead, the four other African-American players who played in the big leagues in 1947, are less well-known.

These athletes, like Jackie Robinson, utilized their talent and willpower to overcome decades of racial discrimination in the sport that has long been referred to as “America’s pastime.” The LA84 Foundation was established to recognize the five men who were the first to break through the color barrier in big league baseball.

Jackie Robinson: The First Man In

On January 31, 1919, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in a little town near Cairo, Georgia, as the youngest of five children. His father, a sharecropper, abandoned the family shortly afterward. He and his family were subsequently relocated to Pasadena, California, where his mother Mallie McGriff Robinson was able to find employment as a domestic. Jackie Robinson was a standout athlete in four sports while attending John Muir Technical High School in Pasadena: football, basketball, baseball, and track.

  • He went on to become the first Bruin athlete to earn varsity letters in four different sports while at UCLA.
  • A few months later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting Robinson to enroll in the United States Army.
  • In 1944, Robinson was sentenced to a court-martial for refusing to move to the rear of a military bus.
  • Jackie Robinson made his professional baseball debut with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in the spring of 1945.
  • He spent his first season on the road with the Monarchs, earning $400 a month on the road.
  • During that meeting, Jackie Robinson signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm team, the Montreal Royals, marking his entry into white professional baseball for the first time.
  • He was officially inducted into baseball history on April 15, 1947, when the Dodgers started the 1947 season against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field.

Robinson won the batting title in 1949 with a batting average of.346 and was the first African-American to do it.

Over the course of a ten-year big league career, Jackie Robinson compiled a lifetime batting average of.311.

In 1962, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

What will endure as his legacy is the inspiration he provides to sportsmen and people of all backgrounds.

Board of Education, stands as a dazzling symbol of America’s battle against racism and the desire for racial peace in the country.

I am well aware that I have never had it easy.” Jackie Robinson is credited with inventing the term “sportsmanship.” While Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in major league baseball, did not earn a hit in three at-bats, he signaled his formal debut as a Dodger by dashing home with the winning run in the ninth inning.” The Los Angeles Times published an article on April 16, 1947, stating This was simply another game, and that’s the way it will be for the rest of the season.

That would be just fantastic if I can pull it off.” ― Jackie Robinson, as cited in the April 23, 1947 issue of The Sporting News.

Larry Doby: The First World Champion

Larry Doby made history by becoming the first African-American to play in the American League less than three months after Robinson made his big league debut. On July 5, 1947, Larry Doby made his Major League Baseball debut as a pinch hitter for the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago White Sox, only three hours after signing his contract with the team. In the same vein as Robinson, Doby was a brilliant all-around athlete. He was born in Camden, South Carolina, and moved with his mother to Paterson, New Jersey, when he was eight years old.

  • Following the conclusion of World War II, Larry Doby returned to play for the Negro League’s Newark Eagles.
  • For Larry Doby, the 1947 season was a rough one.
  • He didn’t get much playing time over the majority of his debut season in the majors.
  • The 1948 season was a complete departure from the previous one.
  • Having hit.356 in spring training, Doby was named the Indians’ starting right fielder and took the field for the first time on opening day.
  • Doby led the Indians in batting average in the World Series, with a.318 mark as the Indians defeated the Boston Braves in six games to win the championship.
  • Doby played 13 seasons in the majors for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers, batting.283 with 253 home runs and a career batting average of.283.
  • In 1978, he took over as manager of the Chicago White Sox for a brief period of time, becoming only the second African-American manager in the big leagues.
  • He is the only remaining member of the 1947 Major League Baseball team who is black.

Willard BrownHenry Thompson: The First Teammates

The St. Louis Browns were the weakest club in big league baseball in July 1947, according to Baseball America. The Browns bought the contracts of Henry Thompson and Willard Brown from the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs in the hopes of boosting their fortunes. Thompson and Brown were both drafted by the Browns. This was described as “an eyebrow-lifting experiment” by the St. Louis Gazette-Democrat newspaper. Thompson and Brown made history by becoming the first African-American teammates in the major leagues.

  • For some, the addition of Brown and Thompson on the Browns roster represented a desperate attempt to increase attendance without any genuine commitment to integrating the big leagues.
  • Thompson, a 21-year-old infielder from Los Angeles, California, was regarded as a legitimate big league talent at the time of his selection.
  • Willard Brown had already established himself as one of the most talented players in the history of the Negro Leagues.
  • His debut games for the Monarchs were in 1935, when he was 21 years old.
  • Brown and Thompson, in contrast to Robinson and Doby, were met with a largely unfavorable welcome by their teammates and did not get much backing from the white coaching staff or administration.
  • When Thompson and Brown were introduced to the squad, they were met with deafening silence.
  • On July 17, Henry Thompson made his major league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The two players didn’t do well in their first few appearances, and after a few weeks, both had batting averages less than.005.

Thompson continued to progress, boosting his batting average to.256 and earning a spot as the starting second baseman for the Red Sox in 2013.

His first home run came on August 13 when he blasted a shot off the 426-foot pole at Sportsman’s Park and raced around the bases for an inside-the-park blast.

Despite this, the club quickly realized that Thompson and Brown were not the solution to dwindling attendance at the stadium where they played.

When Thompson inquired as to the reason, general manager Bill DeWitt responded simply, “There are some things I can’t say.” The first black teammates in the majors were also the first black men to be released from a big league roster at the same point in time.

A little more than three years after his time with the Browns ended, Henry Thompson signed a contract with the New York Giants, making him the first African-American to play in both of the league’s two divisions.

Thompson played in the majors for nine seasons, batting.267 with 129 home runs.

Following his dismissal by the Browns, Willard Brown let his bat to speak for him throughout the offseason.

With a hitting average of.417, he earned the Negro American League batting title in 1951.

Willard Brown played professional baseball for 22 years, accumulating a cumulative batting average of.305, including a.352 in the Negro Leagues. He is frequently referred to as the finest home run hitter who is not a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dan Bankhead: The First Pitcher

‘Dan Bankhead’ grew up in Empire, Alabama, and was one of five brothers who went on to play professional baseball in the National League of the Negroes. In 1940, he got his first professional baseball contract with the Birmingham Black Barons. When he joined the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League in 1947, he was already a dominant pitcher who was sometimes likened to fireballer Bob Feller. His hitting was also excellent, with a season-high average of.385 to his credit. Purchasing Bankhead’s contract from Memphis in late August was a shrewd move by Branch Rickey, who was desperate for quality pitching for his Brooklyn Dodgers.

  • Bankhead, on the other hand, was pummeled, surrendering 10 hits in just three innings.
  • Bankead hit a home run in his very first major league at bat, making him the first and only pitcher in the history of the National League to accomplish this feat.
  • In 1950, he was recalled to the main leagues and went on to appear in a total of 52 games for the New York Yankees.
  • He passed away in Houston, Texas, in May of 1976.

Links to Other Jackie RobinsonBaseball Sites

Jackie Robinson is the Baseball Personality of the Month for the Library of Congress. Our national library has a collection of materials about Jackie Robinson. The Jackie Robinson Estate’s Official Website The official website of the Jackie Robinson estate, which serves as the estate’s sole commercial agent. Baseball Information for Negro Leagues Learn about the leagues in which African American baseball players participated before they were able to break through the barriers of race. Baseball’s Major League Baseball The official website of the Major League Baseball organization.

In the Major League Baseball (MLB), the Los Angeles Dodgers Check out the Blue Crew’s eulogy for one of their own members.

BallParks.com Learn about the historic ballparks where the first African-American big leaguers took the field in the Major Leagues.

Baseball facts and history may be found in abundance on this website.

Jackie Robinson is the subject of a National Archives feature document.

SourcesSuggested reading

Sharon Robinson’s book Stealing Home: An Intimate Family Portrait by the Daughter of Jackie Robinson was published by Harper Collins in 1996. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, edited by James Riley and published by CarrollGraf Publishers in 1994, is a must-read. The Jackie Robinson Story, written by Arthur Mann and published by GrossetDunlap in 1951.

Amereon House published The Negro Baseball Leagues, 1867-1955: A Photographic History, written by Phil Dixon and Patrick J. Hannigan in 1992. In 1960, Random House published Wait Until Next Year: The Life Story of Jackie Robinson, written by Carl T.Rowan with Jackie Robinson as his co-author.

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