"The story of black professional baseball provides a remarkable window into several major themes in modern African American history: the initial black response to segregation, the subsequent struggle to establish successful separate enterprises, and the later movement toward integration. Baseball functioned as a critical component in the separate economy catering to black consumers in the urban centers of the north and south. While most black businesses struggled to survive from year to year, professional baseball teams and leagues operated for decades, representing a major achievement in black enterprise and institution building."
"Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution presents the extraordinary history of a great African American achievement, from its lowest ebb during the Depression, through its golden age and World War II, until its gradual disappearance during the early years of the civil rights era. Faced with only a limited amount of official league documents and correspondence, Lanctot consulted virtually every sports page of every black newspaper located in a league city. He then conducted interviews with former players and scrutinized existing financial, court, and federal records.
Through his efforts, Lanctot has painstakingly reconstructed the institutional history of black professional baseball, locating the players, teams, owners, and fans in the wider context of the league's administration. In addition, Lanctot provides valuable insight into the changing attitudes of African Americans toward the need for separate institutions."
"The gradual movement toward integration during the 1940s marked the beginning of the end for black professional baseball. Though aware of the threat, Negro League owners failed to develop any plan to prepare for the possibility of integrated professional baseball, and in 1945, when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Kansas City Monarch infielder Jackie Robinson, it was a triumph for the nation's African Americans but an embarrassment for industry officials. The decline of black baseball from that point on was inevitable, and by the early 1960s the leagues had ceased to exist."
"Baseball occupied an important social and economic role in black communities, yet histories of the Negro Leagues have often focused on the exploits of individual players or specific teams. In contrast, Neil Lanctot offers an account of black baseball that attempts to achieve a better understanding not only of the administration of the Negro Leagues but also of the unique forces shaping their operation."--Jacket.