Rob Ruck. Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game. Beacon Press; Illustrated edition (February 21, 2012), 2011.
Rob Ruck’s book “Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game” examines the complicated connection between race and baseball in the US. The history of baseball’s integration is chronicled in the book, as well as the contributions of black and Latino players to the game.
The difficulties black and Latino athletes encounter in trying to be accepted by the league are also highlighted in the book. Prior to being allowed to join the MLB, they frequently had to compete in the Negro Leagues and dealt with discrimination and segregation. The book also examines how racism currently affects sports, particularly the lack of diversity in leadership and coaching roles.
Ruck contends that while baseball’s integration in the 1940s and 1950s was an important step toward racial equality, it was also a means by which Major League Baseball colonized the black and Latin game. The MLB was able to take use of the skills of black and Latino players while restricting their autonomy and authority inside the league by controlling the talent pipelines from the Caribbean and Latin America.
Much like what was happening at HBCUs at the time, white owners and scouts were beginning to see the immense talent pool that was available to them via segregated sports leagues. Traditionally white sports leagues pulled in the most money and used this money to start handpicking the best players from these segregated leagues, leaving these leagues devoid of the elite talent that fans had become accustomed to seeing. The influx of elite players into these white leagues only boosted ratings and created more profit as the games were more exciting to watch. This trend has continued into modern days as many institutions and leagues that called themselves all white in the past are making record profits off of establishments that have been in place since the founding of these programs. The SEC in college football is at the forefront of the benefits as they have been able to build long histories of winning which has continued to attract athletes.
I believe the book interacts with the topic well. Sports and race have long been intertwined, as well as the extortion of non white athletes for monetary gain. The topics in this book can be traced to all sports in the US during the time and can also be traced to modern day institutions, where these institutions have found new ways to earn money off athletes. Overall, “Raceball” provides a thorough examination of the relationship between race and baseball and how it has affected the game in America. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in sports history and in particular the history of race in sports. This book offers a thorough overview of baseball and their role in this but also leaves the narrative open for the reader to look into their sport and see the connections with race.