A fascinating history celebrating Black players in Major League Baseball from the 1800s through today, with special insight into what the future may hold.
In Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier: The Story of African Americans in Major League Baseball, Past, Present, and Future, Rocco Constantino chronicles the history of generations of ballplayers, showing how African Americans have influenced baseball from the 1800s to the present. He details how the color line was drawn, efforts made to erode it, and the progress towards Jackie Robinson’s debut—including a pre-integration survey in which players unanimously promoted integration years before it actually happened. Personal accounts and colorful stories trace the exponential growth of diversity in the sport since integration, from a boom in participation in the 1970s to peak participation in the early 1990s, but also reveal the current downward trend in the number of African American players to percentages not seen since the 1960s.
Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier not only explores the stories of icons like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Satchel Paige but also considers contributions made by players like Vida Blue, Mudcat Grant and Dwight Gooden. Exclusive interviews with former players and individuals involved in the game, including the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, add first-hand expert insight into the history of the topic and what the future holds.
Rocco Constantinois the director of athletics at Santa Barbara City College and a sports historian. He is the co-founder and lead baseball writer for BallNine.com and has written for many national online media outlets, including Bleacher Report, Baseball Hot Corner, America Online, and multiple collegiate athletics official websites. Constantino’s first book, 50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball, was published by Rowman & Littlefield and was named among Sports Collectors Digest’s best baseball books of 2016. Constantino resides in Santa Barbara, California.
Foreword by Luis Tiant
1: Drawing the Line
2: Pushing Against the Color Barrier
3: Breaking Through
4: Thriving in a Diverse Game
5: Big Hair and Knocking Down More Doors
6: Fighting Against A Changing Baseball Culture
About the Author
In 1889, Moses Fleetwood Walker was the last Black baseball player to compete at a major league level, until the day Jackie Robinson set foot on Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947. In this fantastic chronicle of Black baseball players, Constantino highlights some of the most important athletes to ever grace the game, including Hank Aaron, Vida Blue, Dwight Gooden, Reggie Jackson, and Willie Mays. Their stories are supplemented by Constantino’s interview with Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, MO. The individual players’ narratives are part of a larger story about the racism in 20th-century baseball. The book spends much time on Jackie Robinson, and on the Black players who were relegated to the International League or the Minor League. Constantino successfully brings to life the stories of perhaps lesser-known players, like Jim O’Rourke. The book also touches on Indigenous baseball players and the long history of Cuban players in the Major Leagues. A fascinating and important look at baseball history, which will be appreciated by any fan of the sport.
Not since [Robert] Peterson's Only the Ball Was White have I read a more complete, thought-provoking history of the Black experience as it pertains to both the Negro and Major Leagues. Even better, in Beyond Baseball’s Color Line, Constantino takes a deeper dive, bringing us full circle from the pre-Jackie Robinson era to today when African American participation in the game is at a multi-decades low. Constantino brings to life the legends and voices of Black baseball—their struggles, their courage, and their oft-untold exploits. A must-read for anyone who wants a more thorough picture of our National Pastime—and our country's complicated history. An appropriate story for our current, turbulent times.
Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier is an important book because it honors the careers of so many Black players throughout Major League Baseball history. African American ballplayers at the Major League level have played significant role models in the lives of Black youths who have aspired to reach those heights. There are so many Black ballplayers who rank among the greatest players to ever play the game. Recognition of lifelong accomplishments encourages one to dream big.
I want to mention to the Afro-American players throughout the Major Leagues that [Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier] is outstanding. Jackie Robinson was the first, Larry Doby the second and if it wasn't for those two individuals, myself as a player, getting an opportunity as a Major League ballplayer, it would have taken a monumental task on my part. But I am really happy I had the opportunity to do that for well over 20 years.
I'm very honored to be in Rocco's book with pitchers like Bob Gibson, Satchel Paige, Luis Tiant and many others. Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier is a great book that honors so many of the game's greatest.
Rocco does a great job of capturing the important history of Black ballplayers in MLB in Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier. He honors everyone from Aaron and Mays to Betts and Griffey while also looking to the future. It's a great book.
Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier is a book that honors great Black players through Major League history, including myself. It's important to honor great players such as Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and so many more.
Rocco does a great job of capturing the history of Black players in MLB while being hopeful about the future. I've been inspired by so many throughout my career, from Jackie Robinson to players like Tony Gwynn and Ken Griffey Jr. It's hugely important to honor them for the sacrifices they made paving the road and for the efforts that went into progressing the game both on and off the field. It's something that myself and future generations will forever be indebted for, so thank you very much to those players from the bottom of my heart and thank you to Rocco as well for continuing to spread that message.
Beyond Baseball's Color Barrier honors the great history of Black players in MLB history and also looks towards the future with hope. Rocco creates a detailed history that is very colorful and well researched.
2/11/21, Choice: Included in Forthcoming Titles in African American Studies feature.LINK: https://www.choice360.org/choice-pick/forthcoming-titles-in-african-american-studies/
4/15/21: Newsday mentioned the book and author Rocco Constantino is quoted in an article about smashing the second color barrier in baseball.