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Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (American Crossroads)by Adrian Jr Burgos
Synopses & Reviews
In this benchmark study on Latinos and professional baseball from the 1880s to the present, Adrian Burgos, Jr., tells a compelling, human story of the men who negotiated the color line at every turn: passing as Spanish in the major leagues or seeking respect and acceptance in the Negro leagues. This is because segregation, and the indelible mark it left on our national collective memory, was not limited to Jim Crow laws in the South. It involved official and unofficial acts on all levels by which access to public and private facilities was restricted along racial lines. Although largely ignored by historians of both baseball in general and the Negro leagues in particular, Latinos have been a significant presence in professional leagues from the beginning.
Burgos delves into archival materials from the U.S., Cuba, and Puerto Rico and draws on Spanish- and English-language publications as well as interviews with Negro league and major league players to argue for the centrality of Latino participants to the story of race in baseball. He vividly demonstrates how manipulations of racial distinctions, made in order to allow wider access to Latinos, provided the template for Brooklyn Dodgers' general manager Branch Rickey to pursue the dismantling of the racial barrier in his signing of Jackie Robinson. An extensive examination of Latino participation on either side of the racial divide before and after Rickey's historic move documents the ways in which inclusion did not signify equality and shows how notions of racialized difference persisted after integration for darker-skinned Latinos like Orestes Minoso, Vic Power, and Roberto Clemente. Playing America's Game connects the past withthe present and shows how racism continues in new forms, educating new generations to the characteristics that mark the Latino difference.
Although largely ignored by historians of both baseball in general and the Negro leagues in particular, Latinos have been a significant presence in organized baseball from the beginning. In this benchmark study on Latinos and professional baseball from the 1880s to the present, Adrian Burgos tells a compelling story of the men who negotiated the color line at every turn—passing as Spanish” in the major leagues or seeking respect and acceptance in the Negro leagues.
Burgos draws on archival materials from the U.S., Cuba, and Puerto Rico, as well as Spanish- and English-language publications and interviews with Negro league and major league players. He demonstrates how the manipulation of racial distinctions that allowed management to recruit and sign Latino players provided a template for Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey when he initiated the dismantling of the color line by signing Jackie Robinson in 1947. Burgos's extensive examination of Latino participation before and after Robinson's debut documents the ways in which inclusion did not signify equality and shows how notions of racialized difference have persisted for darker-skinned Latinos like Orestes ("Minnie") Miñoso, Roberto Clemente, and Sammy Sosa.
"Adrian Burgos is one of best young historians currently working the baseball beat. This is essential reading, not just for baseball aficionados, but anyone interested in the history of American race and ethnic relations."—Jules Tygiel, author of Extra Bases: Reflections on Jackie Robinson, Race, and Baseball History
"Playing America's Game is a terrific addition to the growing literature in Latino history. It is the most comprehensive and nuanced treatment of Latinos and professional baseball."—Vicki L.Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America
About the Author
Adrian Burgos Jr., is Assistant Professor of History at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He was a contributing author to Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African American Baseball (2006), served on the Screening and Voting Committees for the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 2006 Special Election on the Negro Leagues, and consulted on the Hall's ¡Béisbol_Baseball! The Shared Pastime project.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introductions: Latinos Play America's Game
PART ONE: THE RISE OF AMERICA'S GAME AND THE COLOR LINE
1. A National Game Emerges
2. Early Maneuvers
3. Holding the Line
PART TWO: LATINOS AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE
4. Baseball Should Follow the Flag
5. "Purest Bars of Castilian Soap"
6. Making Cuban Stars
7. Becoming Cuban Senators
8. Playing the World Jim Crow Made
PART THREE: BEYOND INTEGRATION
9. Latinos and Baseball's Integration
10. Troubling the Waters
11. Latinos and Baseball's Global Turn
12. Saying It Is So-sa!
Conclusion: Still Playing America's Game
Appendix: Pioneering Latinos
What Our Readers Are Saying
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