|Date(s):||January 1, 1800 to January 1, 1865|
|Tag(s):||Arican Americans, Baseball, Discrimination, Racism, 1800s|
|Course:||“U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction,” Richard Bland College|
Baseball fans across the U.S have heard of players such as David Ortiz, Satchel Paige, or even Bo Jackson. They are some of the greatest African Americans to step foot on a baseball field. Some refer to them as “freaks of nature” because of their playing abilities. Today in Major League Baseball, about 8.5 % of the players on opening day rosters are African Americans. We all know that there was a time in America when African Americans weren't allowed to play baseball. But when were they allowed into the sport of baseball?
It all began in the late 1800s. African Americans first began to play baseball on college, military, and company teams. As time progressed, blacks somehow made it into the professional stage of baseball. There is no record of who the first black baseball player was, but the first black to reach the Major Leagues was Jackie Robinson. Around the 1800s there was a lot of racial prejudice. Some people could only imagine how blacks were treated on and off the field considering that there were people who absolutely didn’t want them play baseball. Those people where whites in the U.S.
Because of the amount of racial prejudice floating around it was hard for players to play the game with comfort. What I mean by this is that players couldn't play the without worrying what would happen to them if they played better than a white player. During this time, if a white player saw that a black player had potential, he would do things like “spike” them during a game. White players used the tactic of spiking to injure African American players. This is done during baserunning and sliding into other bases. If a white player was running bases, he would try to step on the back of a black player's ankle or leg, leaving a huge gash or maybe even breaking the player's leg.
Blacks had their troubles off the playing field as well. For African Americans, they were treated the same as they were within the playing grounds. In some cases they were treated worse. For example if a team went to a restaurant and they had a black player on their roster, sometimes they were refused of service and asked to leave. In other cases they were allowed service, but if the black player were to go to the bathroom alone, sometimes customers would go to the bathroom just to threaten them or even assault them. Because some of the players may have had families, whites would go to their homes and bust the windows out while they were sleeping. Not only did whites bust windows out, they tried to set their homes on fire as well.
As time progressed, people began to see the potential in black baseball player's. Although their potential began to be recognized, there were still some instances where player's were heckled by whites in the stands and off the field. After a while, some whites began to realize that racial prejudice was wrong and that African Americans aren’t what they perceive them to be. The Only thing that blacks ever wanted was the equal opportunities as other people, to be specific whites.
Today in the U.S, there are more black baseball players than there were in the 1800s for sure. There are African Americans playing baseball at every level of play. The number of blacks playing baseball is increasing dramatically every year. If it wasn’t for some players or people, blacks might have never made it to play in the Major Leagues.