“The Integration of the Pacific Coast League: Race and Baseball on the West Coast” By Amy Essington
First things first. This is basically a history book about the integration of players from 1907-1952 which concludes with the full integration of the Pacific Coast League. There is very little baseball talk in the book. From time to time the author may make a short statement about their on-field numbers. But for the most part, nothing is written.
The author discusses the color line. That is how dark you look. Some baseball people couldn’t tell if players are Hawaiian, Native American or African-American so they devised (in their head) a darkness line. If you are too dark you don’t play. Lighter skinned players got in the PCL.
Then it is noted the lines began to shift. People questioned why some were not playing. Public opinion was shifting. It was the International League that made the first movement. Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a contract just a few months after the war. He as assigned to the Montreal Royal team.
Integration moved into the San Diego Padres team with the signing of John Ritchey who grew up playing and living in integrated neighborhoods. Other teams in the Pacific Coast League followed suit in 1949 and integration was happening.
The movement had begun and between 1950 d 1952, all teams had signed players of color. The major leagues were beginning to follow along but it was slower. Many other minor leagues were getting involved except the Southern Association decided to disband rather than be involved in signing blacks.
This book has lots of information that and all of it is historical research that took time and effort. This appears to be a labor of love for the author. This book is a good historical book on the integration of baseball. It is probably required reading at California State University.
Thanks to the University of Nebraska Press for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.
About the Author:
Amy Essington is an instructor in the history department at California State University in Fullerton, California.