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The Negro Leagues


Segregation in baseball was in existence from the 1860s until the latter part of the 1940s.  Until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, blacks were denied an opportunity to play in the major leagues.  During those years, blacks played baseball on a number of teams in different organizations known collectively as the Negro Leagues.

The earliest teams and leagues played exhibition games highlighting the skills of the player.  As transportation evolved especially in the 1920s more structured Negro Leagues were formed mainly in major cities such as Chicago, New York, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.  Most fans who attended these games were also African American, but the skills of the players attracted numerous whites.


Some of the greatest baseball players in history were found themselves languishing in the Negro Leagues.  Players like Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, and Oscar Charleston would have been stars in the majors had they been afforded the opportunity to compete with whites.

No matter how good black players were, American society had to change before baseball would be integrated.  In 1946, Branch Rickey the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers was determined to break the color barrier.  Rickey signed a great all around athlete out of UCLA by the name of Jackie Robinson and the following year Robinson made his major league debut.  Robinson’s success opened the door for other black players like Roy Campanella.

With its best players moving up to the major leagues, the Negro League began to fade until it disbanded at the end of 1950.


Leonard charleston
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