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Shortly before the Civil War a new pastime began to sweep the gentlemen’s clubs and social societies, one that would eventually evolve into the “national pastime”—baseball. The game quickly gained momentum throughout America, with amateur, leisure clubs springing up across the eastern portion of the country, followed by professionalized teams in the 1870s.

Almost from the beginning the nascent pastime caught fire within African American communities just as it did in white society. However, for most of baseball’s first century of existence, a largely informal but nevertheless real “color line” divided the players, owners, journalists, and fans with the same type of racial segregation that plagued almost every other aspect of American society.

But despite this discrimination the passion for and subsequent quality of baseball was just as vibrant in African American culture as it was elsewhere and Chicago developed into what was arguably the strongest and most vital locus ...


Wesley Borucki

baseball player, administrator, and owner. Born in Stockdale, Ohio, Rickey was the second son of Frank and Sallie Rickey. His Methodist upbringing on the family farm during the depression of the 1890s gave him uncompromising beliefs in social justice.

Rickey loved baseball from his youth, catching on a Lucasville, Ohio, recreational team. He became a star student and athlete at Ohio Wesleyan University. Rendered ineligible for intercollegiate competition because of semiprofessional play after his freshman year, he was regarded highly enough by Ohio Wesleyan's administration to be appointed head baseball coach. He stood firm when the University of Kentucky threatened to cancel a game if Rickey played his black first baseman Charles Thomas. Kentucky's coach backed down. Rickey defied a hotel that would have barred Thomas when Ohio Wesleyan visited Notre Dame.

In September 1904 the Cincinnati Reds acquired Rickey but the team soon ...


Paul Finkelman

the first African American to play professional baseball in the modern major leagues. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 and played that year for their top-rated farm team, the Montreal Royals, in the International League. On Opening Day in 1947, Robinson officially broke the color line in baseball as the starting first baseman for the Dodgers. Robinson would play for ten years, garnering numerous awards, starting with Rookie of the Year in 1947. In 1962, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. In 1997, on the fiftieth anniversary of his first game, Major League Baseball permanently retired his uniform number, 42. After leaving baseball, Robinson was active in business, politics, and civil rights.

Robinson was born near Cairo, Georgia. His father, Jerry Robinson a sharecropper left the family when Robinson was seven months old ...