Indeed Jackie Robinson Again and Again

Updated: April 6, 2008


With all that has been written

about Jackie Robinson

his life his career

There is a consensus the best book of all is Jules Tygiel’s ” Baseball’s Great Experiment.” It is so highly thought of that a 25th anniversary edition has been released this spring to acclaim. Good enough reason for us to delve into it.

What makes it so special is how well how vividly it engulfs us in Robinson’s integration of Major League Baseball while taking his life out of isolation and putting it in the fullest context and exploring the lives of other Black players who were likewise instrumental in the fuller integration of Baseball. Those covered include Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Among others. All pivotal figures.

If anything there is more reason to read this award winning book today than 25 years ago. 25 years ago African Americans were at the height of the integration of Baseball. About 30% of MLB players were African American. It ha been all downhill since. Rather than more BS from Bud Selig and Baseball this April 15th, MLB should give every fan who attends every game around the country that day a free copy of Tygiel’s book.

here is how one reader described the book …

” Professor Tygiel’s book is the definitive work on the importance of Jackie Robinson to American history. Tygiel writes a well-researched, dynamic narrative that illustrates Robinson’s incredible achievements and strength of character. This book, unlike others on Robinson, focuses on the years before and after 1947 as well. By doing this, Tygiel reveals the impact of Robinson’s achievement in the context of the emerging civil rights movement. Jackie Robinson‘s story was not his alone- it was the story of the ballplayers who came after him. The book also shows how Robinson’s courageous seasons personified the changing American conscience regarding race in the post-war era.”

It may be a very false hope but if you watch lots of games on this early season there is the vaguest of hints there seem to be more African Americans in these games be it still a very very small percentage in 2008. The decline of African American participation in Baseball NEVER made any sense even though there were and are factors put in place that clearly had that effect. Most of all the clear but unacknowledged decision by Baseball to mine Latin America for “cheaper” players.

If Baseball had not existed in Latin America as football and basketball do not in any significant way there would still be an appreciable number of Black players in the Majors. Because another unstated “policy” of Major League Baseball is that they do not want a Lily White Sport because 1) it will lead to an inferior product, and 2) the fact is fans want to see variety out on the Baseball Diamond. Some Soul in the Game.

That makes the decision of Baseball to shift to Latin American players that much more pernicious. While it would be unfair to criticize the many outstanding Latino players of the past and the present since they have nothing to do with the Shift. The fact is that the defining change that has taken place in Baseball these last 25 years gives lie to all the other theories about the decline of African American players. The most constant canard being that African American kids have shifted to Basketball and Football.

WELL HERE IS THE REALTY. 99.9% of African American young men NEVER play in the NFL or the NBA. THE REALITY IS that if Baseball did not exist in Latin America Major League Baseball would have been making the same effort it did the previous 25 years to find and cultivate African American talent. And today 30% possibly even more of the players would be African American. Even 50% ??

What has taken place in Baseball is what has always been and remains the case in most other industries African Americans are VICTIMS yes that’s right VICTIMS of institutional and economic Racism that has employers looking elsewhere for talent at the expense of Black Americans. The difference is that for one short shining period beginning in 1947 with Jackie Robinson a window of opportunity opened that has since closed.

Read the book immerse yourself

once again or for the first time

in Jackie Robinson‘s world

then compare it to today

ask yourself where is


Jackie Robinson Jersey THE WINDOW HAS CLOSED