Robert W. Peterson (1925-2006) was a newspaper writer, a freelance journalist, and the author of several books on sports and contemporary news events. His primary contribution to baseball research was the seminal Only the Ball Was White, a 1970 book on the Negro Leagues, which remained a foundation for the next few decades of scholarship in the field. Inspired by his memories of watching barnstorming black players in his hometown of Warren, Pennsylvania, in the late 1930s Peterson set out to interview surviving players and study the leagues’ histories on newspaper microfilm. Peterson later became an active participant in SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee, attending several Jerry Malloy Conferences, and was part of the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues that elected 17 people to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Read Mark Armour’s profile of Robert W. Peterson in the Spring 2021 Baseball Research Journal
- Purchase a copy of Robert W. Peterson’s Only the Ball was White at IndieBound.org
- Watch a 1998 interview with Robert W. Peterson on Negro Leagues Baseball (YouTube)
- Larry Lester: “The Baseball Book That Changed My Life” (The National Pastime Museum)