Publication Date

Spring 2004


Thirty years ago only baseball aficionados and some African Americans were very familiar with the existence of the all-black Negro League baseball teams. Since then, the general public has been made more and more aware of these teams and their histories. Surely, though, these teams had more importance for the black community than to simply represent a "blip" on the cultural radar of African Americans. In the halcyon days of the "Roaring Twenties," the darkest days of the Great Depression, and the most fearsome days of World War II, these teams existed. For better or worse they seemed determined to continually find a field to play on and a crowd to play for, and they rarely faced disappointment. In the Midwest, where the population of some towns only numbered a few thousand, and the black population significantly less, the crowds arrived to watch one of these "barnstorming" teams. Society pages in newspapers buzzed about special games, and women's clubs feted players' wives. Although their heyday was in the first part of the twentieth century, the Negro Leagues are still remembered fondly among members of today's black community. These facts force a deeper look at what entertainment, in this case baseball, does for a community.



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