22 Mar 2022


The Importance of Baseball in Advancing for Civil Rights

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Academic level: College

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Sports played an important role in the advancement of the civil rights goals. There were different sports personalities who went through various developments that had significant impacts on the civil rights movement. One important sport that played a significant role in aiding the agenda of civil rights movement is the baseball game. Right from the year 1947 when Jackie Robinson overcame the color barrier in baseball sport, this game went through significant developments that advanced civil rights in the whole of the United States of America.

In the United States of America, it took about 12 years for all the Major League teams to integrate, developments that helped enhance the civil rights agenda. It has to be understood that the integration of the Major League baseball teams was part of the long and protracted struggle of the African-Americans as well as other small races to achieve equality within all fields of public life (Corey & Harnischfeger, 2013). The integration of other races of color into the baseball teams aided the fight for civil rights in the United States of America. The few men who were integrated into the Major League baseball teams cleared the way for the African Americans in the baseball sport and brought great inspiration as well as motivation to the civil rights movement. Whenever an African American was integrated into the baseball team, it was a major advancement for the civil rights movement (Roth, 2015). It marked an important development in the push for respect of civil rights of all Americans. These people overcame major obstacles and hatred by managing to join baseball.

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After the case of Jackie Robinson joining baseball in 1947, other teams followed suit. The Cleveland Indians, under their owner Bill Veeck also integrated their team by signing Larry Doby in late 1947 (Roth, 2015). Doby was able to rise and enter the Hall of Fame by effectively participating in the 1948 Indian team, which won the 1948 World Series hence bringing the African Americans to the limelight, where they could be regarded as important and useful human beings who can equally perform just like the white Americans (Grundy & Rader, 2015). This development was a great advancement for the civil rights movement.

Twelve after the Indians signed Doby; the St. Louis Browns baseball team signed Hank Thompson. Thompson joined very few African Americans who would participate in the baseball sport. In the year 1948, the team signed more African Americans hence increasing the spirits of the civil rights movement further. In 1949, the New York Giants became the next baseball team to integrate by signing Monte Irvin. In the year 1951, Willie Mays joined the New York Giants making the team become the first all African-American outfield in the Major Leagues. The Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Athletics would integrate in the late 1953 season. These teams signed Ernie Banks as a short-stop. Ernie Banks went on to become the 14-time all-star, 2-time National League MVP and a member of the Hall of Fame in the year 1977on the very first election (Klarman, 1994). He again greatly uplifted the inspiration of the civil rights movement and advanced its course in achieving an equitable American society. His achievements within the sport of baseball brought more respect for the African-Americans, who had been despised and looked-down upon by the white Americans (Roth, 2015). More teams followed suit by integrating in the 1950s through 1964 when Martin Luther King spoke about the rights of the African Americans to vote.

The developments within the baseball sport were formed great milestones to the civil rights movement. Whether it was a deliberate or unconscious move to advocate for civil rights, the African Americans used the opportunity provided by their integration into baseball to advocate for civil rights and alter the racial discrimination situation in the United States of America (Grundy & Rader, 2015). Through their achievements in the year 1947 all way through the 1950s within the baseball sport, they were able to move the country to the new way of thinking and broke the existing racial perceptions (Roth, 2015). The integration that has continued to be felt in the baseball sport has been essential in bringing about the equality that exists in America today. Baseball continues to enhance civil rights on the pitch. The racial diversity upheld in the sport of baseball continues to create unity across racial boundaries hence fostering the achievement of civil rights.

Baseball has been important in the advancement of civil rights because of the attention and popularity that this sport has in the entire United States of America (Grundy & Rader, 2015). It attracts a high level of attention because as a sport, it is a source of entertainment to the entire nation. Whatever takes place on the baseball pitch has a great impact in other areas of life in the country. The baseball teams have passionate fans who believe in the team. When a team embraces other races through integration, all its fans, whether white or black Americans, follow suit by appreciating the diversity of their teams and loving other races (Roth, 2015). Moreover, it has to be understood that the baseball players are mentors to the many fans who watch them while on the pitch. 

The best of an example of the importance of baseball in terms of swaying and influencing on the perceptions of people is the integration of the MLB by Jackie Robinson in the year 1947. It has to be known that baseball has been an American pastime for a long time. Baseball was a sport divided between the all-white major league, which was dominant, and the minor Negro League before the integration of Jackie Robinson. This represented the existing racial divide in the United States of America (Roth, 2015). Jackie Robinson acknowledged the influence of baseball and knew its integration would have a significant impact on the civil rights movement by changing the divide that existed between the black and white Americans. Once Jackie Robinson started playing in the integrated baseball team, before the many fans in packed pitches, the white Americans supporting MLB would cheer him (Grundy & Rader, 2015). They started developing a passion for him. Therefore, this development was a major milestone for the civil rights movement since the African Americans started to be embraced by the white Americans. This development was a major boost in the quest for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It had a great role in changing the attitude of the white Americans towards the African Americans. 

In conclusion, it has to be reiterated that baseball has been a very important sport when it comes to the issue of civil rights in the United States of America. Through the major integration of the African-American players into the all-white major league teams that started in the year 1947, the advancement of the civil rights agenda was quite easy. The integration of African Americans into the major league baseball teams since the year 1947 has greatly prepared the ground for the advancement of the civil rights agenda. The achievements of the baseball black African players continue to bring about unity and equality in the American society. The influence that baseball enjoys in the American society cannot be gainsaid. This is the reason the sport remains to be an exclusively important game when it comes to advancing the civil rights agenda.


Corey, M., & Harnischfeger, M. (2013).  Before Jackie: the Negro Leagues, Civil Rights and the American Dream . Ithaca, NY: Paramount Market Publishing, c2013. 255 p.: illustrations; 28 cm.

Grundy, P. & Rader, B. (2015). American sports: from the age of folk games to the age of televised sports (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Klarman, M. J. (1994). Brown, racial change, and the civil rights movement.  Virginia Law Review , 7-150.

Roth, M. (2015). Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson, the Pittsburgh Courier, and Integration through Baseball.   14th Annual Celebration for Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance, Paper 26.

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