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Playing America's Game

Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line

Adrian Burgos (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 384 pages
ISBN: 9780520251434
June 2007
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
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

1. A National Game Emerges
2. Early Maneuvers
3. Holding the Line

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

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
Selected Bibliography
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.
“Fascinating”—New York Times
“If you want to understand the Latino experience in baseball, read this book.”—Slate Magazine
“The best book yet on the history of Latinos in American baseball.”—Beyondchron
“Burgos does a thorough job of describing this system of skirting the color line, as well as its effects.”—Stephen Ellsesser
“Superb and, in many ways, path breaking . . . A must-read for any serious fan of baseball. Not only does it cast new light on the game’s long, fabled and often-troubling history, but it also provide an important context for understanding the dynamics of the ever-changing national pastime today.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A groundbreaking work.”—Centro: Journal Of Ctr For Puerto Rican Std
“Well organized and expertly referenced, this is a book for anyone interested in the history of race in the US, ethnic relations, and, of course, baseball.”—Choice
“Burgos has written a well-conceptualized, prodigiously researched, and cogently argued book.”—Journal Of American History
“An excellent academic portrayal of the Latino struggle for acceptance in the big leagues. Burgos provides an insightful analysis putting history and baseball’s colorful past in perspective. . . . This well-researched title adds a great deal to baseball’s historiography and aptly deserves a place on your shelf.”—La Prensa Del Beisbol Latino
“This is an important contribution for not only those with an interest in baseball but also in understanding broader dynamics within the United States of America.”—Braham Dabscheck Labour History
“Burgos has used baseball to provide a more sophisticated and subtle account of the intersections between race and culture in America, an understanding which goes beyond traditional accounts which have focused on the interactions between white and black Americans. This is an important contribution for not only those with an interest in baseball but also in understanding broader dynamics within the United States of America.”—Braham Dabscheck Labour History
“Excellent book.”—Dan Brown San Jose Mercury News
“An enlightened look at Latino players in baseball and their underappreciated efforts in defeating the sport’s ‘color line.’”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Burgos Jr. is an historian and has a professional's comfort with original-source documents, first-person accounts, and archival treasure hunts. His book reclaims the game's forgotten stars and championship squads."—Literary Hub
"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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