Negro League Baseball in Tidewater Analysis

Silhouette of America’s Dream: Negro League Baseball in Tidewater, Virginia

Introduction report in the Norfolk Journal and Guide in 1917 paints a picture of racial harmony in Tidewater, Virginia, that would almost make one wonder why there needed to be Negro League Baseball. The banner headlines almost said it all: “Big Labor Day Celebration,” “Thousands of White and Colored Laborers Paraded Streets of City.” “Harmony Between Races”

As that report told it, the celebration was a landmark of many sorts. In a relatively lengthy preface to the description of the baseball game that was the culmination of the day, it noted that “If carrying the stars and stripes is a demonstrative evidence of patriotism and loyalty to the United States, the Norfolk colored labor organizations can be styled as true friends to their country. The organizations were out very strong on Labor day [sic]. Several thousands together with the white Labor unions marched the streets of Norfolk in celebration of the day designated as their day throughout the country.”

The author reported the surprise of the citizens that the white and black unionists were marching together, and attributed it, in part, to the fact that “the Negro is awakening to the necessity of organization for protection” in the same way whites had recognized the need for unions to protect them from Golden Age industrial excesses and greed. But the report also noted that whites, both union members and industrialists, in the Tidewater area were beginning to “recognize the Negro as an important factor in the industrial world. It was indeed the first time in the history of Norfolk that colored and white unionists combined in one parade.”

Although the writer believed Norfolk to be the only city in the South to have a combined Labor Day demonstration, one thing had not changed:

The whites led the parade. Following close behind them were the various Negro unions. Among them were the Carpenters and Joiners, Coal Trimmers, Stokers, Working Women’s union and many others. The colored aggregation, numbering more than a thousand, were escorted by three bands.

Not satisfied with all that, the writer offered the opinion that the great parade” demonstrated the “prevailing harmony which exists among the white and colored working classes of this community.” At this point, it must be pointed out that the harmony did not extend to such simple pleasures as the great American pastime, baseball.

Although the writer does not spell out the races, he notes that at the end of the parade, “the colored marched back to Chapel street [sic] and some disbanded but the (assumed black) Coal Trimmers Local went to the League Baseball park and played until 4 o’clock; among the teams playing were the (Norfolk) Red Stockings.

This would imply that, at least in Tidewater, Virginia, the silhouette of black baseball truly was a shadow of the white game, a separate but equal entity. The facts of Negro League baseball, however, reveal that it wasn’t so. The silhouette of Negro League baseball was, more often than not, a mere phantom — an insubstantial suggestion of the body of the American ball club. and, like a phantom, a ghost, it was born of the death of the old order, and eventually disappeared when the black player was welcomed by the white leagues.

This harmonious and bucolic scene, moreover, would have been short-lived. Neil Lanctot, author of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution, wrote that the Great Migration of 1916-1919 sent 500,000 blacks to northern industrial areas, leaving the economically declining South. Tidewater was right in the middle, although the fact that Newport News had been named a point of departure for troops being sent to the war in Europe would have bolstered the economy, making it attractive to those seeking work, black and white.

In fact, World War I accelerated the what was happening in Virginia. “In particular, shipbuilding, the only heavy industry in the state, swelled dramatically. The Tidewater region received another boost when Norfolk was selected as one of two embarkation points for the European front; that city’s population rose 72% from 1910 to 1920. Although a predictable recession followed the war’s end, the shipbuilding industry soon recovered and remained vibrant” allowing the Tidewater black baseball clubs to totter along despite lacking the nationally recognized superstars the Midwestern and northern clubs attracted, such as Satchel Paige.

By 1938, however — a decade before the integration of the major leagues would hasten matters — the Depression had caused distress in the Negro Leagues. The final blow might well be considered the 1938 game at Washington’s Griffith Stadium; drawing nearly 11,000 fans, it constitutes a record for black baseball attendance.

History of Negro League Baseball: In the shadow of Jim Crow

In 1917, the United States was still firmly in the talons of the Jim Crow laws, which would arguably not be completely broken in baseball until Jackie Robinson joined the (white) major leagues in 1947. At the time, in fact, the concelebration in Norfolk might have run afoul of Virginia’s Jim Crow laws, still firmly in effect at the time.

While the laws pertained to virtually every area of human conduct, and it was not necessary to spell out a particular endeavor, some states did have a specific “Jim Crow” law for baseball. Georgia’s law not only demanded segregation; it spelled out how far the segregation had to extend:

Amateur Baseball it shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.

Jim Crow laws were named after a black character in minstrel shows, and existed from the 1990s into the 1960s in many arenas of public life in many states and cities both north and south of the Mason-Dixon line. In fact, so prevalent were these laws, that it is a wonder white Americans ever heard of the Negro league greats, such as Satchel Paige. Playing ball in a sort of “shadow” world of separate diamonds and games, in a great portion of the nation, the players were also required to use the back of the bus, literally, and to frequent only black restaurants and hotels when on the road. That would have been a significant strike against the Black leagues, but it was worse than that: they were subject to financial problems that probably did as much as anything to keep Negro League Baseball out of the mainstream of American consciousness, unlike boxing which had been integrated — at least the contenders had — since well before 1910.

In 1910, Jack Johnson had defeated all the black fighters he had boxed, then all the white fighters he was matched with in smaller venues. Johnson was more than a great boxer who had already captured the heavyweight championship; he was strutting his accomplishments, and thumbing “his nose at the deepest values of the White populace” with a blonde — a white woman — on each arm. So, in 1910, to retain his heavyweight championship of the Western World, Johnson had to fight Jim Jeffries, the Great White Hope who was going to trounce Johsnon. It didn’t happen; Johnson won. And he kept winning. But in 1915, he was convicted “on dubious testimony” of violating the Mann Act, a sort of federal Jim Crow law, which forbade black men to transport white women across state lines “for immoral purposes,” among which was marriage, proscribed virtually state by Jim Crow laws as well. Eventually, Johnson was convinced to ‘lose’ his championship to a plug fighter in Cuba, return to serve a year and a day on the conviction, and then go on about his life. He did that, even winning against young white boxers when he was in his forties, finally dying in an auto accident in 1946.

Johnson’s story is instructive; his biographer contends that it was the Jim Crow laws in his native Texas that had caused Johnson to run away from home before he finished school, learning to fight to survive. It was Jim Crow laws that prevented him from claiming his due as the champion heavyweight boxer of the world. In the end, however, his body was interred in Chicago in a white cemetery that was also the final resting place of Chicago’s elite, the Pullmans, Palmers and McCormicks.

This course of events parallels and condenses the result of the Negro Leagues. Having contended with Jim Crow throughout their lives, the players in the Negro Leagues belatedly got their reward, or at least part of one, when about two dozen players fro the Negro Leagues were awarded pensions out of a charitable fund established Major League Baseball. “The league set up a program in 1997 to provide pensions to Negro League players before 1948, but the new fund will benefit additional players who spent parts of at least four seasons in the Negro Leagues, starting before 1958.”)

When Johnson defeated Jeffries, however, it unleashed white violence against blacks nationwide. “In Washington, D.C., the Washington Bee reported, ‘White ruffians showed their teeth and attacked almost every colored person they saw upon the public streets’.”

Similar events occurred in New York City and tiny towns in the deep South. By the time Jackie Robinson left the Negro Leagues, the backlash was not nearly so pronounced. Arguably, the Negro Leagues kept violence at bay, while producing athletes of exceptional quality without risking Jim Crow law violence.

That, of course, is shining a favorable light on a tradition that is not worthy of accolade, and that arguably prevented numerous black ballplayers from receiving a fraction of their worth.

Today, few people understand the sociological factors that prevented black and white baseball players from competition with each other, as opponents or as members of racially mixed teams. They therefore know even less about those who played for a virtually completely black audience of ball fans. And they know almost nothing of the financial advantage taken of the Negro League equivalents of modern Hank Aarons and Reggie Jacksons and Barry Bonds.

Nonetheless, during the parallel development of the major leagues and the Negro leagues, more than “4,000 men displayed their talents in the arenas of black baseball,” most being of major league caliber. Finally, “approximately three dozen of these stars shone with such magnificence as to have merited selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame” among them several Tidewater players.

But Tidewater teams, of which the Norfolk Red Stockings were probably the most famous and one of the first, often did not fare well when they were on the road, according to the few national reports extant about them today. Of one tournament in the late 1800s, it was said that “The Red Stockings of Norfolk showed up well in the tournament, but luck seemed to be against them….All their games were hotly contested, but in the closing innings, luck would invariably step in and beat them.”

“gentleman’s game,” baseball in the aftermath of the Civil War, was a pastime of all classes, creeds and races: it was still an amateur sport and some black Americans (although obviously not in Georgia) played on teams with whites or in all-black amateur leagues. The color line first appeared the year before the sport went pro: “black ballplayers were excluded from participation by the National Association of Baseball Players on December 11, 1868 when the governing body voted unanimously to bar ‘any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons’.”

Oddly enough, professional baseball was not bound by the rule, and three were integrated professional teams and leagues. This had changed, however, before the turn of the century, and there were no black players in baseball.

By force, black players had to form all-black ball clubs and all-black leagues. The first black league was organized in 1920 in Kansas City, Missouri by Andrew “Rube” Foster. The league was called the Negro National League and had teams in the South and Midwest; it operated until 1931. In 1923, the Eastern Colored League was formed and in 1924, the first Negro World Series was played between the championship clubs of the ECL and NNL. The ECL was dismantled in 1928, with the member teams resuming in 1929 as the American Negro League.

The Depression hit black baseball hard. In 1932, the East-West League formed, folding before the first season ended. The Negro Southern League was the only one to survive that season. In 1933, a second Negro National League was formed, operating alone until 1937. “In 1937, teams in the South and the Midwest formed the Negro American League. The NAL and the NNL coexisted through the 1948 season. In 1949, the NNL was absorbed in the NAL, which operated as the last black major league through 1960.”

Like the white major leagues, the black leagues had a World Series. Played in Chicago’s Comiskey Part, it was considered more important than the World Series, attracting between 20,000 and 50,000 fans yearly.

Unfortunately, the Negro National League, the last remaining black league, folded in 1948, shortly after Jackie Robinson became a member of the first integrated major league team in the 20th century. and, “although black teams continued to play for several years, they were no longer of major league caliber. The demise of the Negro Leagues was inevitable as the younger black players were signed by the white major league franchises.”

Disappearance of the black shadow league parallels U.S. black experience

It is arguable that the black leagues would have folded anyway. At the very least, their rise, problems, and demise can be taken as a metaphor for the black experience generally during the first half of the twentieth century. The players themselves remember the era as happy times; lawyers looking back on it see all the financial pitfalls and finagling that might have taken Negro League ball down in time even if it had not succumbed to integration with the white major leagues. Even in this respect, former players and current observers see the entire matter differently.

While the common wisdom says that the players in the Negro League Baseball clubs were exceptional, Thomas Burt, a Tidewater player, sees it differently.

He thinks “most of the Negro League players couldn’t hold a candle to today’s well-trained athletes” and he wonders what would have happened if Jackie Robinson had not been hired by the major league. Burt is grateful for the chance Robinson provided for other Negro League stars who went on to the majors, including Roy Campanella, believing Robinson’s success made it happen 20 years sooner than it might have.

Burt, who was not a star in the league, played second baseman and shortstop for the Indianapolis Clowns (similar to the Harlem Globetrotters), as well as playing for the Portsmouth Barons, nevertheless “was quick with his glove at second base or shortstop, respectably speedy on the basepaths, and he could hold his own at the plate.” Burt played for the Clown in 1950 and 1951, after Jackie Robinson’s hiring had “signaled the beginning of the end of the Negro Leagues.”

Still, the region was the site of post-Negro League black baseball. In 1953, Burt played for the Willie Mays All-Stars, a barnstorming outfit. “Mays was named to head the team while stationed at Fort Eustis Army Base in Newport News, adding an established name to draw crowds, as was the custom for such teams of the era.”

The fact that Burt drives a bus for the Norfolk Public Schools, and the few of his passengers know of his baseball career, is typical of the ‘second careers’ of former Tidewater Negro League players: The Virginian-Pilot is full of one-line announcements of these men receiving belated recognition or participating in various ‘hall of fame’ events. (it’s typical for all former Negro League players, however. Buck O’Neil, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs, was too old by “the time the white folks of America decided to allow African-Americans in their baseball leagues….”

The end of Negro League Baseball: A matter of color and money?

Tidewater’s Thomas Buck is among many who attribute the failure of the Negro League to integration. Matthewson, writing in the American Business Law Journal, makes a good case that it did not have to happen: that money and mismanagement were also involved. He contends that the demise of the Negro Leagues was not inevitable after Jackie Robinson became a ‘white household’ name. He contends that:

The absorption of one or more teams into the Major Leagues might have been a possibility if the Negro League owners had understood the monopoly forces they faced, if the civil rights community had been supportive of the owners, and/or if the Major League owners could have overcome their bigotry.

Matthewson bases his claim, also, on the fact that other black sports organizations — the American Tennis Association (ATA), the Harlem Globetrotters and Black college sports — have survived and even thrived. This is in direct contrast to the Clowns, the baseball equivalent of the well-loved Globetrotters, to which Buck belonged at that comedy-baseball team’s demise.

He also believes that the Negro Leagues’ star making proclivities, which arguably produced a Jackie Robinson to take the major leagues by storm, are one of a confluence of factors that caused the demise of the Negro Leagues. In addition, he notes that the star-making apparatus caused the Negro Leagues to operate with “weak relational contract structures….” But the main reason, he says, that Thomas Buck is driving a bus instead of being emeritus coach of a ball team somewhere is the monopoly power enjoyed by the Major Leagues. Matthewson notes:

By 1922, perhaps earlier, the Major Leagues had acquired a monopoly over the market for White professional baseball players in the United States through its reserve system. Thereafter, the Major Leagues strengthened that monopoly with the development of Branch Rickey’s other great innovation: the development of the minor leagues as the farm system for the Major Leagues. Finally, the owners of the Negro Leagues appear to have accepted the inevitability of extinction. (NB: Rickey hired Jackie Robinson.)

The Negro Leagues were, says Matthewson, loosely structured relationships — no matter the title at the time — of black professional teams with mainly black owners operating in the United States between 1880 and 1955, when the Indianapolis Clowns was finally disbanded. From the start, the teams engaged in barnstorming, playing both black and white teams. Moreover, the teams’ relationships with other teams were well-organized, with even barnstorming bookings made a year or more in advance.

The problems, however, lay elsewhere, notably in the remaining Jim Crow attitude that sometimes caused bookings to be denied. One obstacle was created when a booking agent arranged for a game between two Negro League teams with the lessor of a baseball park located in a white neighborhood. When a fight broke out during the first game, the lessor required that there be no more games in the park between Negro League teams. In a decision favoring the lessor’s decision, the court said:

But, considering that the park was in a neighborhood of residences occupied by White families, and considering that the first and only game of Negro baseball played in the park brought on a fight and a disturbance of the peace, and considering that the lessor, being a public service corporation, was necessarily solicitous of the good will of the public, our opinion is that the proscribing of Negro baseball games in Kempster Park at night was not an unreasonable rule or regulation.

It is difficult to find reports that Tidewater teams participated in such goings on, even when on the road. Reports of the appearances of the Norfolk Red Stockings away from home are spotty, as the Negro Leagues generally did not keep statistics; the venues and dates of countless games are lost forever. But they did play in northern cities, notably Newburgh, NY, apparently without incident.

A nearby team, Baltimore, was involved in such an occurrence, however. On July 5, 1930, “the first black game utilizing Yankee Stadium was reportedly arranged as a benefit by the Sleeping Car Porters Union, featuring Lincoln and Baltimore

The next week, the game was reported to have been a great success, with 15,000-18,000 in attendance.” Later, however, the Lincoln team was denied use of the stadium; it became clear that “there was much bad behavior among the fans at the game, particularly drinking and fighting, which made the Yankees organization disinclined to offer the stadium again.”

Although some Negro League teams had their own facilities, many continued to rent baseball parks from the major leagues; after the incident above and a few other similar ones involving the St. Louis Cardinals field and the St. Louis Browns, the effect was rent increases for the Negro League teams.

An article written in the 1950s and examining black baseball noted that the lack of a sound financial structure was a major fault, also noting that because of the rental of parks, none of the owners controlled concession sales, “an important profit-and-loss operation.”

In order to raise money, Negro League teams — especially those in less populated areas like Tidewater Virginia — had to schedule away games. However, those venues became increasingly costly, leaving “less money to pay the players to compete in an integrated players’ market.”

The barnstorming, although profitable, made developing loyalty problematical, and it also had an impact on the quality of the product and growth potential of Negro League play. Matthewson notes that the product of a sports league is not isolated and unrelated games, but an annual series of interrelated matches involving all clubs and all the fans of all the clubs. Although there was strong scheduling, it was the strong relational contract structure that was missing. As Matthewson explains it, first, team owners associate with each other and establish league objects and define the league mission. Then each owner enters into contracts with players, stadium owners, providers of financing and suppliers. This is not true in barnstorming in which the first layer was handled by booking agents, denying the Negro League owners the opportunity to build viable leagues, and the second layer provides for the teams to be dependent upon each other. This group cohesiveness, and its value as a marketing tool, hurt the Negro League according to Matthewson. “If a team failed, a barnstorming team could simply line up another team through the booking agent.”

Other problematical features of the leagues that arguably hastened their demise was the weak association between owners, but also the fact that their financial arrangements provided only limited access to capital for expansion or any other purpose. Some owners were arguably also not interested in the sport itself, but rather in owning teams as ‘toys’ they had earned through success in other fields. One owner was Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, an entertainer.

Robinson was a Piedmont native, born on May 25, 1878, in Richmond. In looking for a silhouette for Negro League baseball, one could trace Robinson’s career and note the astonishing parallels. His early life is known only through legend, which is similar to what is known of the early days of Negro League baseball. By the time Robinson was eight, he had begun touring with Remington’s Washington, D.C. troupe. In 1905, he had joined with George Cooper as a vaudeville team, but by 1908, he was performing solo, gaining success as a nightclub performer, enjoying a reputation as the toast of Broadway, black Broadway. He was 50 years old before he began performing for white audiences.

Also, Robinson did not enjoy as much admiration from his own race as from whites. While he was uniquely talented, inventing the ‘stair dance’ (a feat of athleticism as much as dance), his persona as a “dapper, smiling, plaid-suited ambassador to the white world” and the name Bojangles caused him to be less popular with some blacks than with whites. Moreover, the name “Bojangles,” which meant happy-go-lucky to whites, apparently was black slang for “squabbler” reminding many that the Jim Crow laws that mandated separate sports venues for blacks and white were still extant across the nation. As a silhouette of United States entertainment at the time, Robinson was perfect. Just as the Negro Leagues were failing to win the hearts and wallets of their mandated constituency, so did Robinson’s excursion into performing specifically for a black population. His one film for black audiences, Harlem is Heaven (1931) failed financially and turned him away from independent films and back to the major studios for which he continued to make movies until 1940. When he died in 1949, he was eulogized “more lavishly than any other African-American of his time.”

Few owners were as successful in other fields as Robinson. In that respect, Robinson was a foreshadowing of the Major Leagues, where owners’ money often had been derived from something other than baseball itself, a tradition that continues today. Several owners in the Negro Leagues had ties to the numbers rackets that were a drain on black finances at the time, arguably helping for two reasons to hasten the demise of their own investment, both through the unsavory association, and through making money at the expense of the community in illegal gaming rather than by providing wholesome sport.

The shaky financing caused problems; while the barnstorming was a hedge against financial damage if another poorly backed team failed, it also meant that many games were not league games, and thus were not building loyalty to the product. Each team also played a different number of games. The team owners were thus unable to rely on a mutually supportive financial structure; owners moved in and out of the leagues at will. In fact, financial performance of black baseball was wildly variable year to year and “During the late 1930s, the cooperation of league owners remained problematic.”

While that does not particularly ring with Jim Crow possibilities, the fact of rampant free agency does. Because the black players were reluctant to trade away any part of their freedom, considering their position in society, the Negro Leagues did not have strong contracts that would keep players with one team or another. On the other hand, the white major leagues had both strong contracts and limited free agency throughout the period. This allowed the major leagues to present a consistent roster and build team loyalty. It also allowed the major league owners to build a monetary value for the team.

Because of the barnstorming and irregularity of numbers of games per team, the Negro League relied more on star power than team power. Matthewson contends that his is demonstrated by the fact that the Negro League World Series was much less popular than the Negro Leagues annual All Star game.

In addition, blacks were reluctant to give up the free agency aspect of the league. That attitude was “consistent with a cultural value disfavoring limitations on the freedom of individuals to choose their employer, to the point that Negro League court cases contended that the Major Leagues’ reserve system violated the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition against involuntary servitude. A ruling in the case of Pollock v. Williams reinforced that belief when it stated that the “undoubted aim of the Thirteenth Amendment was not merely to end slavery but to maintain a system of completely free and voluntary labor throughout the United States.”

Despite his own contract in the Major Leagues, Jackie Robinson testified to the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly of the Committee on the Judiciary that while he didn’t take complete issue with the reserve system, he would have liked to see at least some control returned to the player.

Lawsuits also arose over the issue. After one of those, however, the Negro Leagues did demand that those who played in their uniform sign a contract allowing the teams to receive compensation from the Major Leagues when the Majors took a valuable player. Obviously, that was too little too late, obviously after the heyday of the 1920s and 1930. Moreover, the Major Leagues got around even that by simply hiring players right out of high school.

It is notable that an action taken by black high schools in Virginia probably hastened that process. Black high schools after the decision in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation in schools, formed the Virginia Interscholastic Association with the intention of creating leverage so that its members could gain admittance to the all-White Virginia High School League.

It worked too well, some might say, as they did of Robinson opening up the Major Leagues, with the VIA folding as high school leagues merged.

Lanctot argues that communism was also responsible, in part, for the demise of the Negro Leagues in the 1930s. He contends “that in the late 1930s it was the Communist Party and its fine newspaper, the Daily Worker, that led the drive to integrate baseball. White owners, nearly all political conservatives, were one with Clark Griffith, boss man of the Washington Senators, who said that blacks were a ‘tool’ of the communists. As for access to the white leagues, Griffith said that ‘the nigras themselves didn’t want it’.” There’s reason to believe that assessment has merit.

How it looked as it happened

While not contending he was a communist, Hopkins notes that Booker T. Washington urged patience as the best method for gaining recognition fro mainstream society; however, this also fostered the ‘shadow’ world, and “the black press was full of stories of “successful” assimilation by African-Americans, as well as emphasis on groups, both social and educational, that derived their patterns of organization and affiliation from similar white groups.”

On the other hand, he contends that this viewpoint separated black newspapers from the concerns of their readers who had found great appeal in the image of the “New Negro.” This image was one that “more radically demanded immediate equal treatment (or even more radically, economic separation from the mainstream).”

On the other hand, some argue that baseball has been important to integrating U.S. society, one that significantly assisted in that pursuit in the aftermath of the Civil War. “By the 1890s newspapers in the southern states were reporting on Major League baseball with the same enthusiasm as those in the northern cities, despite the fact that all the major leagues were located in the North or in border states.” Likewise, all the black leagues were more powerful in the northern and border states than in the South. The ones most regularly reported were the Kansas City and Philadelphia teams.

In the end, however, it may be the Jim Crow laws that kept Negro League Baseball healthy, if not thriving, until the Depression. Before World War II, “it would probably have been impossible to have integrated a Major League team without inspiring a violent backlash….” And the conservative white major league owners didn’t want it either. “Their hostility to blacks may seem surprising, bearing in mind the celebrated role in American sports of pre-Second World War black athletes” such as Jack Johnson.


Negro League Baseball was on the ropes by the end of the 1930s. The second World War intervened, however, to delay its demise by a decade. Jackie Robinson has gotten both the praise and the blame for the dissolution of America’s ‘shadow league,’ probably much more than he deserves in either case. Still, it did give him a platform, in 1958, to write to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that “17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change.”

In 1966, even a white player, Ted Williams, could say “I hope some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”

Tidewater Negro League Baseball was, like all the black teams, a reflection of black life in the United States. The separate but unequal status they enjoyed appeared as a ghost of the white teams. The financial challenges were no different than those of other black enterprises, from stage entertainment to boxing. The financial challenges, arguably more than skin color, is what kept them in the background, shadowing the growth of the American ball club. Like a shadow on a wall, Negro League Baseball, in the Tidewater of Virginia as everywhere else, would disappear when the bright light of national fame finally shone on one of its members, Jackie Robinson.

Works Cited

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History of the Negro Baseball Leagues

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Playing ball for the fun of it. (Negro League baseball star Buck O’Neil) (Column)

The Sporting News; 9/5/1994; Kindred, Dave

Major league baseball’s monopoly power and the Negro leagues.(Sports Law?)

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