In his speech at his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, former Negro League player Buck Leonard said, “Now, we in the Negro Leagues felt like we were contributing something to baseball, too, when we were playing…. We loved the game and we liked to play it. But we thought that we should have and could have made the major leagues.” The Negro Leagues had some of the best talent in the game, but from their earliest days they were segregated from those leagues that received all the recognition.This complete history of the Negro Leagues begins with the second half of the nineteenth century, discussing the early attempts by African American players to be allowed to play with white teammates, and progressing through the creation of the “Gentleman’s Agreement” in the 1890s which kept baseball segregated.
It then discusses the establishment of the first successful Negro League in 1920 and examines various aspects of the game for the players (lodgings, travel accommodations, families, off-season jobs, play and life in Latin America, difficulties encountered because of race). The history ends in 1960, when the Birmingham Black Barons went out of business and took the Negro Leagues with them. Also included are stories of individual players, owners, umpires, and others involved with the Negro Leagues in the United States and in Latin America.
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