The Baseball Color Line – Why It Was Cancelled

Baseball, like many other sports, had its own fair share of racism in its early days. Well, for baseball, it lasted longer than many would like to remember. Racism in sports was often seen as a segregation between the white and the black, the white being allowed to play, while the black weren’t. Sexism was also a part of many sports, with women formally not being allowed to professionally play various sports.

In the case of baseball, they called racial segregation the colored line. It existed until the 1960s, when it was cancelled. Here is a short history of the colored line.

Inception – 1867

In 1867, we have first traces of formal segregation, with the Pennsylvania State Convention not giving a colored team called, Pythian Baseball Club, admission. With that in mind, almost no black players played professional baseball, except two, who were the exceptions. William Edward White played one game in 1879 but only because he was deemed to pass a white man.

More notably, Moses Fleetwood Walker played for the Toledo Blue Stockings. Cap Anson, who was the manager of the Chicago Cubs, was one of the biggest speakers against african american players. Many people think that were it not for Anson, there would have been colored players in baseball even in 1887. But, with his actions, formal documents were signed, banning colored players, first in the high-minot International League. No changes were made for 75 years. The only colored person to play besides the Walker brothers and White was Jackie Robinson in 1946.

Cancelling – 1960s

Everything changed when commissioner Happy Chandler approved of Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers, on account of “them”, or rather, african americans, also fighting in World War II, among other reasons. Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947. That very same year, Larry Doby joined the American League Cleveland Indians. That marked the start of a new era. With these two moves, ignoring the death threats and frequent boos, african american players were signed by many clubs, and by the 1960s, there were more african american players than otherwise, in the MLB. There was some resistance to this, namely the Boston Red Sox, who didn’t want to integrate, and were the last team to do so, in 1959, just a couple of months after the Detroit Tigers.

Given how racial integration was taking place in the entire country, baseball had to join in, or they would be otherwise scrutinized. Baseball had its share of racism, as did every other sport in the United States. Some things take a while to get there, but as things changed in the United States, so they did with baseball. The colored line is no more and hasn’t been here since the 1960s.

Author: Brandon