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.
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
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.
"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
Finalist, Seymour Medal, Society for American Baseball Research
Latino/a Book Award, Latin American Studies Association
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