Of equal importance to this unit is an investigation of topics unavoidably tied to the history of black baseball and the Negro Leagues. Here are a few for your consideration.
Barnstorming: The amazing, sad, and even humorous exploits of players riding from town to town searching for a team to play and a crowd to please are an important part of black baseball.
Family Event: A black game was an event for the entire family. It provided both entertainment and a feeling of pride. It was a social event worthy of your finest attire and your best cooking.
Segregation: Endless tales of discrimination and blatant segregation on and off the field exist. A reflection of our larger society, this system must have taken a tremendous toll on black players.
Hardships: Rooted in a background of prejudice and its resulting segregation, the hardships faced by black players seem enough to discourage even the most ardent athlete. Inability to find proper food and lodging, sleeping in a bus or on the field, playing three games a day, and receiving grossly inadequate wages are but a few.
Love of the Game: It is amazing that players who suffered such physical, emotional, and economic assaults could speak so clearly and passionately about their love of the game and their ability to rise above its cruelties. Numerous quotes are available in print and on film.
Showmanship: Though the greatest display of showmanship was the way they played, many teams resorted to techniques of attracting fans through clowning and comedy routines. These performances were criticized by some as racially degrading and an insult to their ability.
The Black Press: Since the white press largely ignored black baseball, it was the responsibility of African American newspapers and magazines to fill the gap. Their coverage, not only brought real live heroes to the African American community, but also provided us with observations and statistics which form much of the foundation of black and Negro League baseball history.
All of these areas contain information that is vital to understanding black baseball and the Negro Leagues. They are intertwined in the films and printed material listed in the unit’s bibliography. They are topics that students should relate to easily and should help to make events real.