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Black Baseball, Black Business

Black Baseball, Black Business: Race Enterprise and the Fate of the Segregated Dollar

Roberta J. Newman
Joel Nathan Rosen
Monte Irvin
Earl Smith
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Black Baseball, Black Business
    Book Description:

    Roberta J. Newman and Joel Nathan Rosen have written an authoritative social history of the Negro Leagues. This book examines how the relationship between black baseball and black businesses functioned, particularly in urban areas with significant African American populations--Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, and more. Inextricably bound together by circumstance, these sports and business alliances faced destruction and upheaval.

    Once Jackie Robinson and a select handful of black baseball's elite gained acceptance in Major League Baseball and financial stability in the mainstream economy, shock waves traveled throughout the black business world. Though the economic impact on Negro League baseball is perhaps obvious due to its demise, the impact on other black-owned businesses and on segregated neighborhoods is often undervalued if not outright ignored in current accounts. There have been many books written on great individual players who played in the Negro Leagues and/or integrated the Major Leagues. But Newman and Rosen move beyond hagiography to analyze what happens when a community has its economic footing undermined while simultaneously being called upon to celebrate a larger social progress. In this regard,Black Baseball, Black Businessmoves beyond the diamond to explore baseball's desegregation narrative in a critical and wide ranging fashion.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-008-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Monte Irvin

    In my ninety-five years, I have been asked all manner of questions about my experiences playing Negro League ball. And a lot of those questions come with follow-ups regarding my move to the Majors with the Giants in 1949. I’ve been asked pretty much everything about what I saw, how I felt, who I knew, who I liked, and so on. But these questions always had something to do with my life on the field.

    All these years later, I’m still delighted to discuss baseball with fans and scholars alike. So when Professors Newman and Rosen first approached me about...

    (pp. xiii-2)
    Earl Smith

    The Negro Leagues are an interesting and often perplexing phenomenon in the history of American sports. On one hand, the Negro Leagues make sense as a place for devalued American men to partake in the leisure time activity of baseball. Yet on the other hand, the Negro Leagues make no sense at all for the simple reason that all men interested in playing the game of baseball should be able to do so together; even more important, in the world of competitive athletics, all players should want to play against the very best players. Empirically analyzing this conundrum is the...

  5. 1 Black Business and Consciousness in Context
    (pp. 3-23)

    As has been well documented, baseball’s color line, drawn in 1883, led to the formation of a series of loosely organized leagues and independent teams generally referred to collectively though not entirely accurately as the Negro Leagues. Composed of African American players along with a contingent of dark-skinned Latinos, the various iterations of organized black baseball represented a vibrant if not always thriving business enterprise. But the Negro Leagues and black baseball in general did not emerge in a vacuum. Nor did they disintegrate in a vacuum in the seasons immediately following the desegregation of the Major Leagues on April...

  6. 2 Capitalizing Black Baseball and the African American Economic Ecosystem, 1914–1929
    (pp. 24-59)

    On February 13 through 14, 1920, a cabal of baseball entrepreneurs and journalists convened at the Paseo YMCA, just one block away from the crossroads of African American Kansas City at 18th and Vine. At the urging of Robert S. Abbott’sChicago Defender, Chicago’s Andrew “Rube” Foster and Indianapolis’s C. I. Taylor were joined by representatives from Detroit and St. Louis as well as from the host city to form “a circuit for the season of 1921.” “One of the big surprises of the first day’s meeting,” noted theDefender, whose “sporting editor,” Cary B. Lewis, was elected secretary, “was...

  7. 3 The Depression, Black Business, and Black Baseball Revisited, 1930–1939
    (pp. 60-91)

    On Thursday, October 29, 1929, after several months of volatility, the stock market plummeted. The popular assumption remains that the crash signaled the beginning of the Great Depression, which gripped America until the end of the 1930s. The reality is a little more complicated. As John Kenneth Galbraith notes, the stock market was “but a mirror” of “an image of the underlying orfundamentaleconomic situation.” In fact, Galbraith notes, “In June the indexes of industrial and of factory production both reached a peak and turned down. By October, the Federal Reserve index of industrial production stood at 117 as...

  8. 4 The Second Wave and the Business of Black Baseball, 1939–1946
    (pp. 92-119)

    In late 1939 and 1940, the American war machine geared up, providing new economic opportunities for the hard-strapped, depression-weary country. Black Americans were among those to reap a limited portion of the benefits. Although African Americans faced discriminatory hiring practices in the war industries, people again began to flow into urban centers at a steady pace, creating the second wave of the Great Migration. Observes Isabel Wilkerson, “What started as a little–noticed march of the impatient would become a flood of the discontented during World War II, and by the tail end of the Migration, a virtual rite of...

  9. 5 Desegregating Baseball and Its Economic Implications, 1946–1948
    (pp. 120-150)

    When Jackie Robinson officially desegregated the Major Leagues in 1947, the black baseball establishment had yet to fully digest the implications of his signing. Robinson’s first appearance at Ebbets Field on April 15 served as a bellwether of what was to come and reverberated throughout the African American ecosystem over the next few years. As Negro League fans began to reinvent themselves as Major League fans, Negro League baseball, a central node in a broader ethnic economy created by the unprecedented demographic shifts of the first half of the twentieth century, was pushed into the shadows by mainstream business interests...

  10. 6 Black Baseball’s Post–Robinson Challenge, 1949–1963
    (pp. 151-182)

    In June 1949, Effa Manley, never one to shrink from a fight, addressed a meeting of the National Negro Publishers Association and made an impassioned plea to save Negro baseball:

    Organized colored baseball today stands at the crossroads. The success or failure of the teams to draw this year may determine the future of our colored leagues. The past two seasons have seen our colored fans desert our ballparks to follow the exploits of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella of Brooklyn and Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians.

    This season the trend of our fans is toward the major league...

  11. POSTSCRIPT: What Has the Promise Wrought?
    (pp. 183-190)

    In a 1998 article reflecting on the significance of Jackie Robinson’s ascension to the Major Leagues, Gerald Early observes,

    Last year’s celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line in major league baseball was one of the most pronounced and prolonged ever held in the history of our Republic in memory of a black man or of an athlete. It seems nearly obvious that, on one level, our preoccupation was not so much with Robinson himself—previous milestone anniversaries of his starting at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 1947 produced little fanfare—as...

    (pp. 191-194)
    Roberta J. Newman and Joel Nathan Rosen
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 195-216)
    (pp. 217-224)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 225-239)