CHARLOTTE, NC: The year was 1920, a century ago, when Negro League Baseball made its professional debut. Combined with Jackie Robinson breaking the racial barrier of Major League Baseball when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946, the influence of black athletes has changed the face of sports forever.
On the first weekend in April, Cape May, NJ will host a weekend of activities in honor of the Negro League centennial.
Baseball was the king of American sports in 1920. Thanks in large part to segregation, both subtle and overt following the Civil War, opportunities for black ballplayers at any level, be they amateur or professional, were virtually impossible.
In 1867, the National Association of Amateur Base Ball Players rejected African American membership and, nine years later, in 1876, owners of the professional National League adopted a “gentleman’s agreement” to disallow black players.
File that date, 1876, because we will return to it later.
For the next 44 years, from 1876 until 1920, African American’s had their best opportunities with traveling teams. Known as “barnstorming”, black…