Another day, another Hoddle about race and sports.
Ramble of the Day
Yesterday marked the centennial celebration of the Negro Leagues, a league created for the Black and Latino baseball players while Major League Baseball excluded players of color. A virtual campaign of tipping caps was seen on social media Monday, and you can read a bit about that specific tribute here.
I wanted to do a little bit more digging about the leagues, and found this article by Joe Posnanski for The Athletic (that is not behind the paywall). He was one of the people who organized the Tip Your Cap tribute, but he also wrote a book about the leagues called The Soul of Baseball and used the article to talk a bit about that history and specifically Buck O’Neil, one of the leagues’ players and coaches who helped create the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. As always, the whole thing’s worth reading, but here’s one part I will point out for today’s Hoddle:
Buck kept meeting people who had their own impressions of the Negro Leagues as a ragtag collection of semipro players who mostly clowned around and found them unwilling to take the players or Black baseball seriously.
“Negro Leagues baseball was probably the third-largest Black-owned business in the country,” he used to tell people, and he would talk about the pride that echoed throughout Black communities because of their baseball teams. He would tell of his personal experiences of playing baseball with [Satchel] Paige during the day, then going to see Count Basie or Billie Holiday perform in the evening, and how extraordinary it all was.
It reminds me of how the history we learn tends not to be inclusive, and therefore inaccurate. Posnanski mentions earlier in the piece that players in the league were recognized as talented, but it was a successful business, too. Posnanski also says that opinions eventually changed on the leagues after Ken Burns’s docuseries Baseball aired on PBS in 1994, but before then the leagues developed a reputation that wasn’t actually a reflection of history.
It is worth considering why history was distorted in such a way that undersells the achievements of people of color. In the end, these accomplishments were hidden from history for a while — baseball is considered an American pastime, and I knew very little about this history before this week. (I am not a baseball fan and that could explain some of it, but Jackie Robinson, MLB’s first Black player, was someone I learned about in school so it could have come up and probably should have.)
As I’ve shared before, learning these stories is so important for us to properly contextualizing history and our present. This seems like a very important chapter in the history of baseball, the quote-unquote American pastime; understanding it should probably be part of understanding baseball.
Links of the Day
The Premier League, FA, and EFL are collaborating on a scheme to increase the number of coaches of color in England.
The NWSL will now allow players to stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem before games.
Juventus signed Arthur from Barcelona, with Miralem Pjanić going the other way.
A Danish study found that commentators in England are more likely to call lighter skinned players intelligent and darker skinned players physical.
Derby’s Andre Wisdom was stabbed and is in the hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery.
A longer read: Caitlin Murray on Casey Short, the NWSL, and why “The Star-Spangled Banner” should no longer be played before sporting events for Yahoo Sports