Jackie Robinson, and the End of Negro League Baseball

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This week, movie fans are being reminded of Jackie Robinson, whose story is told in the new movie “42.”

In 1947, Robinson became the first black player in major league baseball. Initially an outsider, he was quickly joined by other players of color. Within five years of joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, there were over 150 black players signed to the major and minor leagues. Baseball was well on its way to being fully integrated.

But while integration was good for America and the big leagues, it also was the beginning of the end for the Negro League; the league in which Jackie Robinson got his start and in which other talented black baseball players were relegated to compete for decades.

What was it like to play in the Negro League? And how did the players and organizers feel about Jackie Robinson?

Bob Motley is a former umpire for the Negro League from Kansas City, Missouri. And Ray “Boo Boy” Knox is a former player with the Negro League’s Chicago American Giants.

You can learn more about the Negro League from Negro League Legends or the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum