From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on August 18, 2014:
When Jackie Robinson opened the 1947 season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, most baseball fans and writers believed that he was the first black to play in the major leagues. (Robinson himself believed that at the time.) He was the fourth. William Edward White was the first, in 1879; the author died before this discovery. Who were the other two? Read on.
For a few years in the 1880s, with slavery dead and Jim Crow not yet ascendant, a spirit of racial tolerance prevailed in America that permitted black and white to rub shoulders without strife. Many black players performed at all levels of Organized Baseball into the 1890s, but the color bar that Jackie Robinson broke was erected in the International League in 1887. How and why it happened makes compelling reading; from “The National Pastime” of 1983, which I had created in the previous year for the Society for American Baseball Research.
Jerry Malloy (1946-2000) was a pioneer researcher who was honored in 1997 by the creation of an annual Negro League Conference named for him. He was also my friend. This is his monumentally important study of how baseball drew the color line.
Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/08/18/out-at-home/
- Related link: Click here to view photos from the 17th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference on August 14-16, 2014
Originally published: August 18, 2014. Last Updated: August 18, 2014.