“The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues”

BANNER: “The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues.”


The recent calls for the induction of Curt Flood into baseball’s Hall of Fame deserve our support. His legal protest of athletic servitude to the owners of the means of professional sports competition had an impact on the economics of the game that is beyond any easy summary. One result is that “average” baseball players such as Eddie Rosario can earn a small fortune in the course of their careers that amounts to the entire payroll for every player in the Major Leagues in any given year between 1960 and 1970.

I mention Rosario because I recently looked up his statistics when he was featured in a video in which by sheer chance he ended up getting credit for a base hit when he was simply trying to avoid being hit by an errant pitch. One could not accurately describe Rosario as having hit the ball; rather, the ball deflected off the bat. The article commented that the contact was so light that no “exit velocity” was recorded. Rosario is no doubt like any veteran who has had at least a thousand at bats: no fewer than two or three dozen of those instances surely have ended up as line-drives that went almost directly into the glove of a fielder. Every good player knows the frustration of having hit a ball “perfectly” and only having it show up as “out” in the boxscore. In some ways, this is merely a tiny bit of compensation for that kind of frustration.

What caught my eye when I opened up the site with Rosario’s statistics, however, was a banner:

“The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues.”

It’s about time that this adjustment in our evaluation of the quality of play in segregated America came to terms with the white privilege that saturates the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now since the Negro Leagues are no longer active, one might quibble: “The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues”
but the reality is that the argument is being made to shift contemporary perception.
Saying “were” would suggest that this fact was known back then, and acknowledged. It wasn’t, and so the need is to make it present tense: The Negro Leagues ARE Major Leagues.


In this way, too, Black Lives Matter.

Comments are closed.