When Baseball Went White
Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Dreams of a National Pastime
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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To say, as many historians have, that baseball’s racial segregation resulted from a “gentlemen’s agreement” is roughly the equivalent of asserting that the Civil War stemmed from a difference of opinion.1 There is truth in both statements, but not nearly enough nuance to satisfy even...
Prominent Players and Clubs
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Part 1. The War’s Over, 1865– 67
1. Washington DC: A Game to Be Governed
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Like many young veterans, Nicholas Young did not go home after the Civil War. Young wanted something more or maybe just something different than his hometown, Albany, New York, could offer. So he migrated to Washington DC in pursuit of a government career. On...
2. Richmond: Make It a Southern Game
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Baseball took a bit longer to take hold fully in Richmond, Virginia, and in most Southern cities, than in Northern cities. The 1865 season came and went with only a smattering of games in former Confederate states. In 1866, however, baseball flourished. And it was at the end...
3. Philadelphia: Baseball’s Boomtown
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Philadelphia’s baseball community dwarfed those of Washington dc and Richmond. Philadelphia had more ballplayers than its mid- Atlantic neighbors and, by all indications, better ones. The Philadelphia Athletic, Bachelor, Keystone, Olympic, Quaker City, and West Philadelphia...
Part 2. Sorting Out New Divisions, 1867– 69
4. Philadelphia: Setting Precedent
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On October 16, 1867, Raymond J. Burr, vice president of the Philadelphia Pythians, found himself inside a stately Harrisburg courthouse petitioning for baseball’s integration. His was the only black face in the chambers. Thomas Fitzgerald, due to his removal from the Athletic Base...
5. Washington DC: Nationalizing Separation
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Beginning immediately after the Civil War, dozens of Washington dc clubs played baseball. Government offices often fielded their own teams. Georgetown University gave rise to the Stonewalls and the Quicksteps, bringing collegiate baseball to the nation’s capital. But the game’s popularity...
6. Richmond: Calibrating a Response
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Not a single Richmond baseball club attended the 1867 National Association of Base Ball Players’ convention. In fact, despite the reconciliationist overtures made by the association in 1866 and 1867, not one Southern club made the trip to Philadelphia for the gathering.1...
Part 3. New Realities Entrenched, the 1870s
7. Philadelphia: Permanent Solutions
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Although many clubs played, there was no question about which baseball club was Philadelphia’s most powerful; the Athletics reigned supreme. The club won more games, brought in greater revenues, and had more influence in the baseball world than any other Philadelphia...
8. Richmond: The Final Tally
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Alexander Babcock, the New York City ballplayer turned Confederate rebel, had led Richmond’s post– Civil War baseball development. Richmond never rivaled Philadelphia or Washington in terms of baseball prowess, but Babcock, as a player and team president, had shaped...
9. Washington DC: Professional Separation
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“Base ball is business now, Nick, and I am trying to arrange our games to make them successful and make them pay,” Harry Wright, the manager of the professional Boston Red Stockings, wrote to Nicholas Young in 1872.1 The concept of “making baseball pay” was not, of course, an...
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In 1999, more than fifty years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, the New York Times ran a story on declining black participation in organized baseball. The piece, “Out of the Ball Park: For Black Americans, Baseball Loses Its Luster,” reported on young black men...
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This project has taken forever, it seems, to complete. Along the way there have been many people who have helped. My PhD adviser, Michael Kazin, encouraged me to explore baseball as a means of understanding the Reconstruction era. In doing so he gave me the freedom to...
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2014