Baseball and Ethnicity
232 pages, paperback
These nine essays selected by Lawrence Baldassaro and Richard A. Johnson present for the first time in a single volume an ethnic and racial profile of American baseball. These essayists show how the gradual involvement by various ethnic and racial groups reflects the changing nature of baseball—and of American society as a whole—over the course of the twentieth century.Although the sport could not truly be called representative of America until after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947, fascination with the ethnic backgrounds of the players began more than a century ago when athletes of German and Irish descent entered the major leagues in large numbers.
In the 1920s, commentators noted the influx of ballplayers of Italian and Slavic origins and wondered why there were not more Jewish players in the big leagues. The era following World War II, however, saw the most dramatic ethnographic shift with the belated entry of African American ballplayers. The pattern of ethnic succession continues as players of Hispanic and Asian origin infuse fresh excitement and renewal into the major leagues.