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During the racial segregation that existed in the South and the North, organized baseball excluded Afro-Americans from the game in the unofficial way. Rader stated that “throughout most of its history, baseball mirrored the nation's racial, ethnic, and religious practices.” Baseball played a significant role in the alleviation of the issues of race and ethnicity in America by banning racial discrimination in the game, which forced the end of racism in the society.
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From the first day of the existence of professional baseball, racism was its integral feature. In 1867, the first organized league in the country the National Association of Baseball Players refused to adopt the status of the baseball club to African American team. In 1947, the United States still appeared as a black-and-white country. The hearts of many people, including southerners, were full of long-standing hostility to blacks. According to them, Negros did not deserve equal civil rights with whites. The opinion that only whites could play in the major leagues was supported among baseball officials and owners since the beginning of the century. Thus, blacks could only play in their own Negro leagues. Prior to 1900, sixty African American athletes were allowed to play in the major league teams, but a gentleman’s agreement, which was signed by the owners of baseball clubs, cemented the principle of racial segregation in professional baseball. Moses Fleetwood Walker, who accepted a team of Toledo Mud Hens that was part of the American Association, was the last African American player who played in the major leagues prior to Jackie Robinson.
As a result of informal segregation, some Negro leagues appeared in America although they could not be compared with reputable higher leagues neither in financing nor organizational stability. In fact, most professional black teams survived by holding demonstration games in various American cities. They toured the coutry sometimes playing several games a day. Despite the poor organization, which featured activities in Negro leagues, interest in the matches of African American teams was great. In 1942, the highest attendance figures for these matches were recorded. Many veterans of African American descent, who had returned from the fields of the World War II, talked about the need for integration in full voice. Despite the fact that in 1942 some major league teams began to show interest in the Negro leagues, the first steps in this direction were made only two years later after the death of an ardent opponent of racial integration, the chairman of baseball leagues Kenes Montana Landis.
Afro American Jackie Robinson played a crucial role in struggling against racial discrimination. He became famous as the first African American who managed to enter the Major League. Rader considered Jackie Robinson a black talent whose arrival to Brooklyn’s Dodgers forced its Golden Era, “the most distinguishing feature of the Dodgers in the Golden Decade was their use of African American players.” Robinson managed to break the color barrier on April 15, 1947. Moreover, on that day Brooklyn Dodgers put him at first base. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this act. Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the world arena dealt another extremely powerful blow to racial segregation. In 1949, Jackie Robinson became the first black player in baseball history who was voted the most valuable player of the National League. In 1962, Jackie received a place in the Hall of Baseball Fame. In 1997, Robinson was awarded an even higher award when Major League Baseball has officially assigned 42nd number to him, thereby prohibiting other players of major baseball teams from wearing it.
Jackie became the first professional athlete whose uniform number has been officially sent into retirement. Afterward, a holiday was invented in honor of Jackie Robinson. There is no doubt that Robiinson fought racial segregation mostly by personal achievements in- and outside the baseball field. In fact, Jackie was the first black television analyst and the first colored vice-president of a large American corporation. Thus, Robinson has become truly revolutionary in character, which is evident not only from his sports achievements but a great first step on the long way to equality. Apparently, the presence of black players made baseball game in 1995s different from the previous ones.
The struggle against racism was made by means of communication. Radio had a great influence on sports and provided new experience; thus, fans’ imagination was inspired by radio. Hereby, the World Series’ broadcasting via radio became an annual ritual. As a result, this impacted the consciousness of Americans who began to lower the racial tension on African Americans.
According to Rader (2008), as baseball became a national game, it endowed the issue of racial integration with a symbolic importance. The possibility for whites and blacks to play baseball together raised the question about their separation in the school, armed forces, courts, work and society. The destruction of “racial wall in the national game” made the need of removing all barriers that blacks have faced indisputable.
In sum, baseball was a symbol of American life. As many blacks were legends of baseball game, African Americans became legends among American fans who ceased to perceive them as only Negros. Thus, baseball alleviated the issues of race and ethnicity in the United States through delaying racial discrimination in the game. In turn, this changed the perception of African Americans in the society and forced the removal of racial segregation in other spheres of life. Thus, this forced a new wave of the fight with racism, which ended with the reduction of racial tension in society by the adoption of laws that strengthen the foundations of equality of ethnic minorities.
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