Negro Leagues had life after Jackie

From SABR member Stephanie Liscio at on February 29, 2012:

It’s a common narrative that once major teams started to integrate their rosters in 1947, it was the beginning of the end for Negro League baseball. While this obviously did not do much to help the Negro Leagues, there is a bit more to the story.

In 1947 the Negro Leagues were split into two leagues, just like Major League Baseball — the Negro National League and the Negro American League. The NNL collapsed in 1948, but the NAL lived on in some form until 1963. Why do many people directly connect the demise of the Negro Leagues to integration, particularly when the Negro Leagues survived for more than 15 years? If they were able to make it through the intervening years, what finally led to the collapse in 1963?

First, it should probably be noted that the majors integrated rather slowly. Even though the Cleveland Indians added Larry Doby just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson, the final team didn’t integrate until the Boston Red Sox added Pumpsie Green in 1959. Even teams that integrated often added just a handful of players, with small numbers in their minor league systems as well.

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Originally published: March 1, 2012. Last Updated: March 1, 2012.