“Don’t fight fire with good intentions alone.” This is a painful lesson learned from Negro league baseball which had two major incarnations: from 1919 to the 1930’s, and then from the 1940’s to the early 1960’s. By the early 1940’s, Negro league baseball, clearly rough around the edges, had become a million-dollar business.
But the leagues were torn apart when the major leagues began snapping up their brightest stars, beginning with Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby in 1947. Negro league baseball was ultimately destroyed, in part by its own disorganization, but also by a so-called integration process that involved players but not management: it did not include blacks in ownership, front-office jobs or the peripheral businesses of baseball. The consequences reverberate more than five decades later.