Chapter

Baseball Was America

Rebecca T. Alpert

in Out of Left Field

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399004
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897360 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399004.003.0001
Baseball Was America

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This chapter provides an overview of how professional baseball, defined as America's national pastime, was an entryway for immigrants, including Eastern European Jews, to become American. At the same time, an unwritten rule kept African Americans out of organized baseball and compelled them to create separate venues to play. In order to explain how Jews found themselves involved in black baseball, the chapter examines Jewish racial identity and anti-Semitic stereotypes prevalent in the first half of twentieth-century America. This chapter also introduces the various protagonists who were integral to the business of black baseball. The Jewish businessmen who owned and promoted black teams, Ed Gottlieb, Abe Saperstein, and Syd Pollock; the political radicals who were sportswriters for the communist newspaper Daily Worker, Lester Rodney, Bill Mardo, and Nat Low; and the baseball team from the Hebrew Israelite community of Temple Beth El, the Belleville Grays.

Keywords: baseball; anti-Semitism; Jewish immigrants; Ed Gottlieb; Abe Saperstein; Syd Pollock; Daily Worker; Hebrew Israelites; racial identity

Chapter.  12989 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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