Staples: America’s other ‘colored’ leagues: The legacy of Japanese-American baseball

From SABR member Bill Staples Jr. at Out of Bounds Magazine on April 7, 2015:

The game of baseball today has never been more international or multicultural, and it only promises to become even more so in the future. Much of that is owed to the goodwill tours conducted by the “Baseball Brothers” of Japanese Americans and African-Americans during the 1920s and ’30s.

More than 80 years before Major League Baseball established business agreements in the east, these pioneering ballplayers blazed trails through Japan, Korea, and China, and served as U.S. baseball ambassadors, despite the fact that they were still considered second-class citizens in their own country.

The game of baseball is a reflection of America, and just as Japanese Americans and African-Americans were marginalized in social and economic affairs for much of the first half of the twentieth century, organized professional baseball drew a “color line” forcing each to play in leagues of their own. While almost all baseball fans know about the “gentleman’s agreement” that kept African-Americans out of the game until 1947, very few people know about baseball’s other color line.

Read the full article here (scroll to page 8 in the e-magazine):

Originally published: April 7, 2015. Last Updated: April 7, 2015.