The Negro League revolutionized baseball – MLB’s new rules are part of its legacy

The Kansas City Monarchs practice with the legendary Satchel Paige pitching at Yankee Stadium in New York before a Negro League game between the Monarchs and the New York Cuban Stars on August 2, 1942.

Matty Zimmerman/AP

hide caption

change caption

Matty Zimmerman/AP

The Kansas City Monarchs practice with the legendary Satchel Paige pitching at Yankee Stadium in New York before a Negro League game between the Monarchs and the New York Cuban Stars on August 2, 1942.

Matty Zimmerman/AP

This season, MLB instituted new rules to make baseball games shorter and more exciting. According to filmmaker Sam Pollard, some of these changes are reminiscent of an earlier period in baseball history: the Negro National League.

While sluggers like Babe Ruth dominated MLB, the Negro leagues, which had been founded in 1920, had a more foul-mouthed, hit-and-run, base-stealing style of play. Years later, as the first black player to play in MLB in modern times, Jackie Robinson would bring that same energy to a wider audience.

Pollard says, “If you look at footage of Jackie Robinson from the late ’40s and early ’50s, he had a lot of sparkle and attractiveness.” “You could see it followed by other players who came along… guys like Maury Wiles, Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson. He brought a different style that was part of the style that was in the Negro leagues. Energetic, more aggressive, more aggressive – a type of baseball that Major League Baseball has been trying to bring back since it changed some rules.

Pollard’s new documentary, Competition, Tells the story of the Negro Leagues and how it revolutionized baseball. He describes the league’s games as social events that spawned new businesses and attracted celebrities such as Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne, and Count Basie.

“Even though it’s [was] “A horrific period of American apartheid, this was a chance for people in the black community to really come out and enjoy themselves,” says Pollard.

As Pollard points out, Rube Foster, a former pitcher turned businessman, was the “father of Negro league baseball”. ,[Foster] He had a very entrepreneurial spirit, and he decided he wanted to create a league of Negro league baseball teams that would be exactly like Major League Baseball,” Pollard says. “He brought together a group of different black owners in Kansas City and they formed the Negro National League.”

interview highlights

On the Entrepreneurial Spirit Behind the Creation of the Negro Leagues

Here we live in the era of Jim Crow and segregation, and African Americans are forced to live within their own communities. And in order to survive and prosper, he created his own business. They had their own shops. They had their own funeral homes, they had their own teams so they could survive financially. And many of them flourished.

If we look back to the early 1900s, there’s communities like New York City, Harlem, Chicago, Bronzeville, there’s Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, all these communities basically said, “Well, we can’t integrate . We can’t integrate. I have been forced to take a divorce. So let’s start our own business and learn how to survive financially.” So Negro league teams had another sense of economic opportunity for Negro league owners and patrons to pay and watch the games. So all of the money that went into these Negro league games, or the money that went into these new stores, went into the black community, helping these communities to thrive and survive.

Regarding discrimination by Negro league players while playing exhibition games against white teams in the South

It was dangerous. Listen, you’re talking about a time when black people couldn’t go to restaurants. He could not go to the bathroom. Everything was “white” or “colored”. … It was a treacherous period in American history for African Americans. … As Hank Aaron said, they would have to live on a loaf of bread and some peanut butter, because they couldn’t save the restaurant or didn’t have enough money to buy a sandwich. … They went to a boarding house to sleep and the manager told them, “No, you’ll have to sleep on your bags in the field.”

on the jug quack paigewho became a major player in the Negro leagues in the 1930s

What made this guy special was that he had a wide variety of pitches where he could go up and get an entire team of players out in nine innings. He was an amazing pitcher. He was a legend. There are many myths about Satchel Paige. For example, there was a story that he would call in the outfield, put them in the back of the infield, let them all down, and he would put the opposing team out. That’s how great he was as a pitcher. ,

Even after his tenure, he was one of the few African Americans besides Jackie Robinson to be drafted into the major leagues by the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s. So he was a very phenomenal player. a legend. People consider Babe Ruth to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time, I would say Satchel Paige equals him – one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

What Prevented the Integration of Black Players on Major League Baseball Teams

By the 1930s… white reporters started coming to the games and were enthralled by what they saw. And that’s when the discussion really started moving to whether African Americans shouldn’t be integrated into the major leagues? The only person who really put the kibosh on that was Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who became baseball commissioner after the 1919 Black Sox scandal. And he was completely against white players playing African Americans. And they also quelled some of the storming that occurred in the ’30s between players like Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean who went on to play across the country, because it was exciting to watch two of the best pitchers, one white man, one black, against each other. play against.

On the reaction of black fans when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947

While everyone is excited. Everyone wanted to see it. Many people were excited about Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball. To me, as a teenager growing up… I thought this was an unprecedented thing to happen in American history. ,

Helping African Americans on their path to integration into the world of sports was a huge benefit. But on the other hand, what effect did it have on these Negro league teams and black communities? Teams in Major League Baseball suddenly lost their best players, making these teams, these Negro league teams, less dominant and not as strong. … Why go out and watch Negro League games when you can watch some of the best players who were once Negro League players and now play Major League Baseball? So it had a double effect that most people never talked about when I was growing up.

MLB finally recognizes performance of Negro league players

In the last 10, 12 years, the Negro leagues have become much more prominent in Major League Baseball. The fact that they have now taken the statistics of the main Negro league players and put them in the Hall of Fame shows that they understand the importance of the Negro leagues and that many players who came into the league are not some of them. . Entered the Hall of Fame, but was still a very important player.

Amy Sallit and Seth Kelly produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly CV-Nasper and Beth Novi adapted it for the web.

Stay Connected With Us On Social Media Platforms For Instant Updates, Click Here To Join Us Facebook

Show More
Back to top button

disable ad blocker

please disable ad blocker