Americans gained many new political and social rights during
Reconstruction. Even though they won these new rights, many blacks’
still faced opposition from whites. Some common forms of
discrimination of blacks included Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, literacy
tests, and the ruling of the Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson,
which ruled that separation of races in public accommodations was
legal. Discrimination in sports could also easily be seen. A well
known example of this was in baseball.
Back in the
1880’s when “organized baseball” reflected ambition more than
reality, there were a few dozen blacks who were allowed to play in
integrated leagues.(Sailer, pg. 2) But as time past, blacks started
to banish from these leagues. This led to a rigid color barrier which
lasted all the way until 1947 when Jackie Robinson played his first
game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.(Celebrating the end of segregated
baseball, pg.1) During the years of segregation, baseball, along with
show business and professional boxing was one of the few ways for
blacks to have a chance at fame and riches.(Celebrating the end of
segregated baseball, pg.1) Governments had very little to do with the
segregation of baseball. In fact, the main agitators for segregation
were the white ball players. A infamous white athlete named Cap Anson
was probably the best known of the many white athletes who would
threaten strikes or violence against black rivals.(Sailer, pg.2) The
banning of blacks only came up for a vote once in 1997 in the
International League. Many anti-black demonstrations by white players
took place also to discriminate blacks from playing in leagues.
Another popular way that blacks were driven out were by using
As the supply of
black baseball talent started to rapidly increase after World War 1,
the demand for it could not be contained. The Negro Leagues were
booming in the 1940’s. Their All Star game would even frequently
draw more people than the white All Star game. Many blacks and whites
were also starting to play together especially at the Collegiate
level.(Sailer pg.3) A great example of this was Jackie Robinson who
starred in baseball, football, basketball, track, tennis, golf, and
swimming at U.C.L.A. This all helped lead to the desegregation of
On April 15,
1947, Jackie Robinson played in his first game as a Dodger. In his
first year as an African American in an all white league, Jackie
Robinson accomplished many things on and off the field. Robinson was
named Rookie of the Year and was widely called the most exciting
player in what then was undeniably the nation pastime.(Jeansonne,
pg.2) With Robinson playing for the Dodgers, the Dodgers increased
their attendance and were packing stadiums around the league.
Robinson brought huge crowds of black fans into than Brooklyn’s
Ebbets Field.(Jeansonne, pg.3)
He changed life
for many different people, as stated by Wendell Smith of the
influential black weekly, the Pittsburgh Courier, “Jackie’s
nimble, Jackie’s quick, Jackie makes the turn styles click. ”
According to Joe Morgan, ” What Robin did was change’ the way
baseball was played.”(Jeansome, pg.3) Off the field Jackie made
many contributions. He wrote many letters in which he would argue his
political and racial beliefs. He also invested in a bank and
construction company to cater to minorities. Robinson even made
appearances with people such as Martin Luther King Jr. at various
civil-rights demonstrations/(Jeansonne, pg.3) These contributions
made by Jackie Robinson and his breaking of the color barrier in
baseball gave many blacks inspiration. Many whites began to realize
that African Americans are the same as everyone else. Jackie
Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in baseball showed that
blacks and whites could get along. It also was a major step in the
right direction for African American rights.
Desegregation of baseball was a major event in the 1940’s. This
event had many effects on people. For many, Jackie Robinson is a hero
for what he accomplished.
the end of segregated baseball: The flaws in the diamonds. ” The
Economist. 18 Jan. 1997.
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