The Jewish Contribution to Ending Jim Crow Baseball

Rebecca T. Alpert

in Out of Left Field

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399004
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897360 | DOI:
The Jewish Contribution to Ending Jim Crow Baseball

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This chapter chronicles the long history of activism that made it possible for Jackie Robinson to break baseball's color line. Sportswriters for more than a dozen African American newspapers led the effort. They were supported by three Jewish sportswriters for the communist newspaper The Daily Worker. Lester Rodney, Bill Mardo, and Nat Low argued for baseball's integration beginning in 1936. They organized tryouts with major league teams for Negro League players; conducted letter-writing campaigns, protests, and boycotts; and provided the only consistent coverage of Negro League games in the mainstream press. The chapter also looks at the strategic role played by Bill Benswanger, the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the only Jewish owner of a major league team during this era. It examines the roles Ed Gottlieb and Abe Saperstein played in the legendary stories about purchasing and integrating the Philadelphia Phillies when the team declared bankruptcy in 1943.

Keywords: Jackie Robinson; African American newspapers; Daily Worker; Lester Rodney; Bill Mardo; Nat Low; Bill Benswanger; baseball's color line; Jewish owners; Philadelphia Phillies

Chapter.  12019 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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