How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game
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Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
As a life-long baseball fan, I�m always on the look-out for meaningful books
on the sport with its past that so closely mirrors the social and political
chronicle of America. I found it.
Rob Ruck, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of
The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic,
provides the bitter truth of professional baseball in his new book, along
with its racist history and the commercial greed generated by the demise of
the glorious Negro Leagues and the recent Hispanic players coming in the Big
Very few books have ever explored the Caribbean heritage of our national
pastime like Ruck's book. With great detail and excellent anecdotes, he
traces the time line back to the late 1880s, discussing the birth of the
sport in Cuba, Dominican Republic, and other Latin countries. When Ruck
talks about the link between the superstars of the Negro baseball leagues
and their Caribbean peers in the 1940s, he mentions the fans below the
border warmly welcoming players such as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.
The harsh Jim Crow laws made life hell for Negro or Latin player playing in
white America because of second-rate accommodations, inferior equipment,
shoddy ball fields and outright harassment and insults. Most of these
athletes steered clear of trying to break the color barrier until World War
II finished and the money men saw "the colored players" could be a
commercial boon to the established leagues. Enter the pioneer Jackie
Robinson and his stellar achievement through hate and back.
However, Ruck notes that progress always has its drawbacks: "While
baseball's integration meant that African American and Latino athletes could
finally join the team, and helped the United States embrace the movement to
desegregate its core institutions, it came with little consideration for its
impact on those whose needs should have been foremost. As a result,
baseball's integration was predatory as well as salutary. It cost black
America a piece of its soul plus a crucial part of its social cohesion and
In his closing chapters, Ruck writes of the rise of baseball academies in
Latin countries, the decline of big league black baseball players in recent
years, and the occasional surge of white racism in the sport in current
times. The success of his observations lies in that there are facts
and figures behind every one of them. That makes his book exceptional.
Raceball, an expose of sorts on major league baseball, gets down to some
serious business without posturing or grandstanding.