How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game

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For baseball, no moment was more transformative than Jackie Robinson’s arrival in the major leagues in 1947. Since then, African Americans and Latinos have reshaped major league baseball. They’ve provided the game with its most iconic figures, won a disproportionate number of individual honors, and been at the core of almost every championship team since 1947. Integration allowed major league baseball to enter its golden age as African Americans and Latinos injected new talent after Jackie Robinson jumped the color line.

Although long overdue and a catalyst to social change off the field, integration cost black and Caribbean societies control over their own sporting lives. It changed the meaning of sport and not always for the better. Raceball explores the oft-tortured relationship between Major League Baseball, black America, and the Caribbean before, during, and after MLB’s integration. By looking at this history from the vantage point of black America and the Caribbean, a different story comes into focus, one largely missing from traditional narratives of baseball’s history.

I began working on Raceball in 2008 after Allison Trzop, an editor at Beacon Press, suggested that I bring together the stories of black and Latin baseball. It draws on the work of a perceptive range of scholars and journalists writing about the Caribbean and African Americans as well my travels to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands, and most of all, the Dominican Republic.

Raceball book cover

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Praise for Raceball

“One of our greatest historians of sport has given us a gift for the ages: a history of baseball that captures its multicultural dynamics in original and profoundly illuminating ways. Synthesizing a lifetime of pathbreaking research, Raceball presents a brilliant new account—in black, white, and brown—of what can no longer be regarded as merely the national game.”

—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship

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