The Black Stars Who Made Baseball Whole

The Jackie Robinson Generation in the Major Leagues, 1947–1959


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About the Book

For major league baseball, the decade following Jackie Robinson’s 1947 debut was one of slow yet persistent change. Four other black players made their first, brief big-league appearances that year, followed by only two in 1948 and four in 1949. But by the end of 1959, 122 black ballplayers had made it to the big leagues. Like Robinson, their lives were made difficult off the field, and on it they dodged beanballs and spikes.
This book brings attention to the accomplishments of this transitional generation of African American players—made up of men like Luscious Luke Easter, Sam “The Jet” Jethroe, and Sad Sam Jones—many of whom spent years in the minors, the Negro leagues, or both before getting their shot. Chapters on each season from 1947 to 1959 incorporate biographical and career profiles for 25 players who stood out during baseball’s integration. A final chapter covers the outstanding minor league players who for various reasons never got a real chance to play major league ball.
Appendices include a roster of black major leaguers from 1947 through 1959, a list of black-player firsts and statistics on the year-by-year population of black players in the majors.

About the Author(s)

Society for American Baseball Research member Rick Swaine has five baseball books in publication, two of them on baseball’s integration era. He has also been a contributor to The Baseball Research Journal and The National Pastime. Retired from an accounting career, he lives in the Tallahassee, Florida area.

Bibliographic Details

Rick Swaine
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2316-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0553-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. Prelude to Integration      5

2. 1947—When All Hell Broke Loose      12

Jackie Robinson      13

3. 1948—The Bill Veeck Show      24

Larry Doby      26

Satchel Paige      34

4. 1949—The Dodgers Rule and the Giants Join In      44

Roy Campanella      45

Don Newcombe      54

Hank Thompson      60

5. 1950—The Boston Braves Get in the Act      65

Sam Jethroe      66

Luke Easter      74

Dan Bankhead      86

Monte Irvin      93

6. 1951—“Go-Go!” and “Say Hey!”      100

Minnie Minoso      101

Willie Mays      113

7. 1952—A Lull in the Action      124

Joe Black      125

Dave Hoskins      130

8. 1953—The Cubs Make It a Majority      136

Ernie Banks      137

Gene Baker      146

9. 1954—Another Banner Year      153

Hank Aaron      154

Vic Power      163

10. 1955—The Yankees Finally Give In      172

Elston Howard      173

Bob Thurman      183

11. 1956—The American League Lags Behind      191

Brooks Lawrence      192

12. 1957—Jackie Retires and the Phils Integrate      201

Bob Boyd      202

Connie Johnson      207

13. 1958—The Tigers Succumb and It’s Down to One      215

George Crowe      216

14. 1959—The Last Holdout Folds      223

Sam Jones      224

15. The 1960s—The National League Rises to Dominance      233

16. Other Black Pioneers      236

17. These Guys Never Had a Chance      252

Appendix A. Roster of Black Major Leaguers (1947–1959)      273

Appendix B. Population of Black Players in Majors by Year      276

Appendix C. Black Player Firsts      278

Appendix D. Honors and Awards      281

Bibliography      285

Index      291

Book Reviews & Awards

“meticulous…with great detail and precision, Swaine notes the incredible persistence and remarkable achievements of these black ballplayers…brings the feats of black ballplayers to new generations of fans…accomplishes an admirable task…a remarkable read”—Nine; “superb…valuable”—ARBA; “this is the book to read”—The Courier; (SABR Negro Leagues Committee Newsletter).