History's Hook

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Baseball is the quintessential American sport. Its long history dates back to the mid-19th century. But the sport has had a fractious history when it came to race relations. Despite quite a large number of African Americans playing in various leagues along-side white players in the early years of the sport, by the turn of the 20th century, complete segregation took hold. A number of quote, Negro leagues were formed to allow for African Americans to play the sport, but various factors caused most of them to fail. Players faced serious discrimination and some stadiums refused to let black teams play at their facilities.
It all changed in 1920, when Rube Foster launched the Negro National League. Reformulated several times with new leagues and owners, Negro League baseball enjoyed periods of success in the early 1920s and again after the Great Depression. However, Jackie Robinson’s integration of baseball in 1947 prompted a slow but irreversible influx of talent to the major leagues, and the remaining Negro League teams mostly folded by the 1960s.
Middle Tennessee fielded a number of great African American baseball players and Nashville hosted several Negro League teams. Including the Villians, the Black Vols, the Elite Giants, and the Stars.
On December 16, 2020, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred declared that the seven historic Negro leagues would be recognized as official major leagues, with their players' records and statistics counted in baseball’s record books.
Hosts Tom Price and Jo Ann McClellan speak to author Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton, author of several books and articles on women’s sports and Negro League baseball including “Daddy’s Scrapbook: Henry Kimbro of the Negro Baseball League, A Daughter’s Perspective,” which she published in 2015. In 2017, Dr. Kimbro-Hamilton was inducted into the Fisk University Sports Hall of Fame.

What is History's Hook?

History’s Hook is a weekly audio-media series that uses local stories…stories found in everyone’s backyard…to explore national and world history. The show features experts and eye-witnesses to events that make those connections in history. The show’s host, Tom Price is a veteran historian who has spent nearly 30 years working in museums and archives finding those documents and objects that tell the stories of all of us. He has published numerous articles on U.S. History and has curated fifteen major exhibitions related to American History and culture.