MLB: American Dream

From my research, I have realized that baseball involves a complicated history of racism and gender discrimination. Many articles discuss about how blacks attained their memberships in Major League by overcoming many struggles in establishing rights for game participations. Many authors point out that blacks were excluded from the mainstream baseball leagues, and they were perceived as inferior people who are unsuitable for playing baseball. Based on this social background, I would like to answer the following questions: How did blacks and whites unite in the Major League? What were the prompts that built the current Major League as diverse environment? Were there any unequal treatments among men and women?

Birdland: Two Observations on the Cultural Significance of Baseball: A COLUMN
In this article, Gerald Early states that black players integrated with white players in the Major League in 1947, along with the Americans’ developed motivation towards Cold War. Since blacks were excluded from the mainstream baseball teams, they formed a league called Negro League in 1920 and gained their right to participate in the games as professional baseball players. Until then, there was an era of “inside baseball” or “scientific baseball” during the 1880s and 1890s, where runs were scored by strategy, guile, and aggressive base running. Intelligence and competitive guts strongly mattered in performances, and whites thought that blacks lacked both skills. All leagues during those times limited the number of colored players employed in each club. Due to these circumstances, it was an extraordinary time for blacks to create professional baseball clubs. After World War II, the nation’s need for uniting as an one community made the baseball players unite, and as a result, they began to accept colored players’ memberships.

The Interest Convergence Principle and the Integration of Major League Baseball
Joshua DeLorme and John N. Singer mention that the integration in the Major League is a great example of interest convergence princple. MLB’s integration is often referred to an achievement in civil rights equity for black citizens in America. However, the movtivation was not headed towards the black population of America at all. The 1947 season proved to be detrimental to the Major League as a whole, since many powerhouses such as the Homestead Grays reported record losses in revenue and drastic decreases in attendance. “The commodity of black baseball, especially in the early to mid-1940s, proved to be a financially and socially viable component of the black community, which signified to owners such as Branch Rickey that Black players were talented enough to participate in MLB and that black fans patronized baseball contests” (DeLorme and Singer, 381). DeLorme and Singer believe that in the future, this principle should be used to assess the driving forces behind the integration of college sports in America, the Professional Golf Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and any other sport league, regardless of competi tive level. It can also be used to examine integration on a case-by-case basis. For example, it could be used to examine the integration of any college’s or university’s sport programs as a whole. An interesting case study would be to explore the hiring of head football coach Tyrone Willingham at the University of Notre Dame in 2002. He was the first black head coach in the school’s history. Like this study, it is likely to conclude that the integration of Major League Baseball is proportional to the growth in people’s intrests toward black players’ performances and talents.

Writing Baseball into History: The Pittsburgh Courier, Integration, and Baseball in a War of Position
Ursula McTaggart’s article mainly focuses on the actions of Pittsburgh Courier, the black press. By focusing on baseball as a site of integration and opportunity, the Courier excluded black women. This was particularly significant because, between the years of 1943 and 1954, black women athletes were barred from the short-lived women’s professional baseball league, the AAGPBL. Integration for female athletes did not draw the Courier’s attention even though black women excluded from the AAGPBL found a space with the men on declining Negro league teams. During the 1950s, three women played for Negro league teams. These women athletes gained attention primarily as novelties. “The conjunctural opportunity seized by the black
press and the black community to end baseball’s color barrier only opened a space for competitive masculinity” (McTaggart, 124). As black male athletes economically and socially became visible in the public, black women remained the invisible targets of segregation. “Symbolic integration in the cultural public sphere, then, failed to translate into everyday acts of integration for both men and women” (McTaggart, 124). Although the integration succeeded in building black men’s masculinity, black women still did not gain the right for equal performance. Thus, McTaggart argues that black women are not only segegrated because of their race but their presence as a female, which is perceived as inferior to male.

From these three sources, one can conclude that black players’ achievement of membership in Major League implies American Dream. They overcame the color barrier and created a diverse environment where every person can equally perform in the games. In order to attain this American Dream, blacks had to go through racial and gender segragation, but after World War II, these gradually eased as the nation consciously began integrating as an one community.

Works Cited
DeLorme, Joshua and John N. Singer. “The Interest Convergence Principle and the Integration of Major League Baseball.” Journal of Black Studies 41.2 (2010): 367-384. JSTOR. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

Early, Gerald.”Birdland: Two Observations on the Cultural Significance of Baseball: A COLUMN.” The American Poetry Review 25.4 (1996): 9-12. JSTOR. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

McTaggart, Ursula. “Writing Baseball Into History: The Pittsburgh Courier, Integration, and Baseball in a War of Position.” American Studies 47.1 (2006): 113-132. JSTOR. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

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One Response to MLB: American Dream

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    You have three solid scholarly sources here. I am a bit curious about your assertion that these articles reinforce the American Dream. Are you arguing that the American Dream is valid and that baseball is now a real level playing field? What does this mean? Is there then racial equality? What about gender equality? Women are clearly still not included, as the last article discusses. How does this disrupt notions of the American Dream?

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