Williams: The geography of segregated baseball in New York

From Keith Williams at the New York Times on February 21, 2018, with mention of SABR member Larry Lester:

The earliest confirmed game between two black teams was played in the Town of Jamaica, now part of Queens, on Nov. 15, 1859. The Henson Base Ball Club defeated the “Unknowns” of Weeksville, a free black community in today’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, 54 to 43. (Scores like this were common, as pitchers threw underhand.)

In those days, baseball fields often doubled as ice skating rinks in the winter. A condescending 1862 article in The Brooklyn Eagle places another all-black match, between the Unknowns and the Monitor of Brooklyn, at the “Yukaton Skating Pond.”

Despite professional baseball’s ban on nonwhite players, which became more or less formal in 1887, stadiums used by major league teams also hosted Negro league clubs, particularly after World War I.

“Racism has entertainment value,” said Larry Lester, the author of “Black Baseball in New York City” and a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “It was a moneymaker for the bookies and promoters.” And for the stadiums, too: Many major league owners opposed integration because they would lose rental fees from Negro teams.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/nyregion/the-geography-of-segregated-baseball-in-new-york.html

Originally published: February 22, 2018. Last Updated: February 22, 2018.