Block: Buffalo Soldiers, segregation and spring training: How African American players shaped baseball in Arizona

From Alexa Block at KPNX/12 News on February 21, 2020, with mention of SABR members Bill Staples Jr. and Charlie Vascellaro:

As hundreds of thousands of fans get set for 2020 spring training action in Arizona a game-changing century of baseball is being celebrated – the centennial anniversary of the Negro National League.  

The impact that African American players have had on America’s pastime is substantial. And these players’ connections to Arizona’s baseball history run deep.   

In February of 1920 the Negro National League was formed and other organized leagues would follow suitThese leagues gave African American ballplayers the opportunity to play the game they loved as they faced a stark color line that had been drawn on fields across America.  

Local historian and author Bill Staples, Jr. explained African American players had begun to organize teams and even play on integrated teams as early as the 1890’s in Arizona.  

“That’s where they not only proved that they were equal as ballplayers, but equal as citizens, equal as human beings,” Staples said. 

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Originally published: February 24, 2020. Last Updated: February 24, 2020.