When Baseball Went White: Reconstruction, Reconciliation, & Dreams of a National Pastime

Univ. of Nebraska. Jun. 2014. 304p. illus. ISBN 9780803235212. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780803255173. SPORTS
That baseball would be segregated during Reconstruction following the Civil War hardly seems an academic discovery; baseball was segregated until the 1947 season, after all. What Swanson (director, Lobo Scholars Program, Univ. of New Mexico) seeks to do in this meticulously researched study featuring hundreds of source notes is show the reasons, beyond the obvious, for this and the mechanics by which segregation remained in baseball. He concentrates primarily on three cities: Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Richmond, since the Middle Atlantic states had a high concentration of African Americans and thriving baseball teams and all faced the complexities of Reconstruction. His primary contention, which in this layman's eyes he proves admirably, is that the fathers of baseball wanted to shape a national pastime, to do so meant bringing the South aboard, and this necessitated shunting African American teams to the sidelines.
VERDICT This book is unlikely to catch on with popular audiences, but it should be a boon to scholars of both the early development of baseball and race relations after the Civil War.
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