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Negro League BaseballNegro League Baseball

The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution

Neil Lanctot

Winner of the 2005 Seymour Medal of the Society for American Baseball Research

Narrated by Todd Barsness

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Pennsylvania Press

The story of black professional baseball provides a remarkable perspective on 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 correspondence and documents, 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, he provides valuable insight into the changing attitudes of African Americans toward the need for separate institutions.


“Lanctot offers a careful and balanced judgment on the Negro leagues, one that is likely to stand for some time. ”

The New York Times

“Lanctot takes us beyond the ball field where the Paiges and Gibsons played in forced segregation, and into the commercial and social realities of baseball in black communities.... Lanctot offers a rich array of facts that history lovers can feast on.”

Washington Post

“A fact-filled and thought-provoking book that should be of interest and use to scholars and lay readers interested in sports history, business history, and African American history.”

Enterprise and Society

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