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Under Jackie's Shadow: Voices of Black Minor Leaguers Baseball Left Behind (Hardcover)

Under Jackie's Shadow: Voices of Black Minor Leaguers Baseball Left Behind By Mitchell Nathanson Cover Image
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Under Jackie’s Shadow is a portal to the hidden world of Minor League baseball in the era just after Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

What was it like to be Black and playing in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1965, or Memphis, Tennessee, in 1973? What was it like to play for white coaches and scouting directors from the Jim Crow South who cut their professional teeth in the segregated game before Jackie Robinson ushered in the sport’s integration? Or to be called into the clubhouse with your Black teammates one spring training morning in 1969 and told that to make the ballclub you’d have to beat out the Black men in that room, because none of you were ever going to beat out a white player, regardless? Or to spend a staggering eight seasons playing A-ball in the Midwest League, even winning a triple crown, while watching less-talented white teammates get promoted each year while you stayed behind? The thirteen players in Under Jackie’s Shadow are going to tell you.

The players’ experiences in baseball’s Minor Leagues in the 1960s and 1970s do not comport with the largely celebratory tales the leagues like to tell about themselves. The Black Minor League players remained largely invisible men—most of whom couldn’t be named by even the most devoted baseball followers. Based on Mitchell Nathanson’s interviews, Under Jackie’s Shadow uses the players’ own words to tell the unvarnished story of what it was like to be a Black baseball player navigating the wilds of professional baseball’s Minor Leagues following the integration of the Major Leagues. Harrowing, beautiful, and maddening, these stories are vital to our understanding of race not only in baseball but in the United States as a whole.

About the Author

Mitchell Nathanson is a professor of law in the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at the Villanova University School of Law. He is the author of several books, including Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original (Nebraska, 2020), God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen, and A People’s History of Baseball.

Praise For…

"This is a powerful work that shouldn't be missed. . . . It could become a referendum on the state of racism in the United States today. Highly recommended."—Library Journal, starred review

“In his brilliant and important reckoning of baseball’s neglected Black heroes, Mitchell Nathanson masterfully illuminates their stories. I was immersed in the extraordinary lives of young athletes who boldly strived to more fully integrate the Major Leagues during the turbulent 1960s. Segregation and racism curved their love of the game, relegating their visions of glory to a field of dreams deferred. To be sure, the denial of their talents was baseball’s and America’s loss. Yet their memories are devoid of bitterness and regret. This book will inspire generations. It is a poignant story of what could have been and what may yet be.”—Chris Thomas King, author of The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture

Under Jackie’s Shadow is a journey over historical terrain strewn with the wreckage of Black players’ lives and dreams too often dashed against the ramparts of discriminatory traditions and consigned to oblivion. Under Jackie’s Shadow compels us to look at this hidden and lost history, to acknowledge and come to grips with its impact on the men most directly involved and its implications relative to what MLB was as an institution, what America was as a society, and what in some significant measure America is still burdened with as a nation today.”—Harry Edwards, author of The Revolt of the Black Athlete

Product Details
ISBN: 9781496237170
ISBN-10: 149623717X
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Publication Date: April 1st, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English