Blackistone: It’s time for baseball to acknowledge Cap Anson’s role in color barrier

From Kevin Blackistone at the Washington Post on December 2, 2015, with mention of SABR members David Fleitz and the late Jules Tygiel:

His plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y., was in need of amendment, or editing, the moment it was unveiled at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. To be sure, of the achievements it cited of Adrian Constantine Anson, better known as Cap — “GREATEST HITTER AND GREATEST NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYER-MANAGER OF 19TH CENTURY . . . .300 CLASS HITTER 20 YEARS . . . ” — it omitted his most remarkable.

Cap Anson erected the color barrier in baseball.

His effort to make baseball all white — which, disturbingly, didn’t deter us from fondly calling it America’s pastime — became the game’s hallmark for more than half a century, 60 years. But there is no acknowledgement in Anson’s hall of fame display of his role in spearheading racial segregation in baseball, which as this country’s bellwether professional sport led our other professional team sports, including the NFL and NBA, as well as popular individual sports, most notably heavyweight boxing and golf, to shun athletes of color as well.

Princeton University last month was forced to confront its historically sterilized celebration of one of its icons — its alumnus, former university president and 28th U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson. It hadn’t adequately acknowledged his past as a maker of racist public policy that had a deleterious impact on countless black citizens.

Well, Cap Anson is baseball’s Woodrow Wilson problem. And the game ought to take a lead from Princeton on how to correct it.

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Originally published: December 2, 2015. Last Updated: December 2, 2015.