Helfand: Baseball’s early black players faced injustice, humiliation, and now a curious grad student

From Zach Helfand at the Los Angeles Times on September 26, 2015:

The project called for patience, perspective and, perhaps most of all, a deep love of baseball. The last part was what made Neftalie Williams’ presence here, next to a baseball complex in Compton, so peculiar.

Williams was there to interview Don Buford, subject No. 5 out of 111 in a quixotic mission: Over the next few years, it’s Williams’ job to interview, record and catalog every living African American player from the turbulent first 25 years of Major League Baseball’s racial integration, from 1947 to 1971.

Already, Williams and Daniel Durbin, the USC professor who created the project, have heard about old injustice and lasting humiliation. Many of the stories had never been told before. Others won’t be told until later, having been tucked away into a “dead file,” which, Durbin explained, consists of stories the researchers have been told “you can only release after I’m dead.”

Read the full article here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-baseball-black-history-20150927-story.html

Originally published: September 28, 2015. Last Updated: September 28, 2015.