Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line

Black Major Leaguers, 1947-1959

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254 pages
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“The more you read, the more you shake your head. The minority players of that era are truly inspirational!”—Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox

“These short chronicles remind the reader of how quickly the socially impossible becomes the daily routine. Whether for loot or for the love of the game, these players bridged the distance between racial segregation and racial integration in America's standard pastime.”—Russell Adams, chair, African American Studies, Howard University

“This is an important book on baseball and on the history of black/white race relations in the United States. It takes up where Robert Peterson's important Only the Ball Was White leaves off—the point at which blacks entered the major leagues. Moffi and Kronstadt demonstrate precisely and eloquently how the crossing of the color line was not a quick one-time event but, rather, a slow decade-long process of various courageous moves matched by even more cowardly moves by both players and owners.”—Ed Folsom, editor, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

From 1947, when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, through 1959, when the Boston Red Sox became the last major league team to integrate, more than a hundred African American baseball players crossed the color line and made it to the major leagues. Each of these players is profiled in this comprehensive book, which includes their statistics and capsule biographies, their triumphs and their on- and off-field trials as they integrated the game.

Some of these players became superstars of the game and eventual Hall of Famers—Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Roy Campanella, and Bob Gibson—but most, fine journeymen like Frank Barnes, Willie Kirkland, Billy Bruton, and Harry Simpson, were average players. However, all were pioneers, facing down the enormous difficulties of integrating organized baseball.