tv Race and Baseball in America CSPAN March 17, 2018 9:45pm-10:01pm EDT
announcer: next on american history tv, university of talks aboutfessor the history of race and baseball in america. this was recorded at the american historical association annual meeting in washington dc. he is teaching history and a specialty that people may not think of as a historian subject. baseball. thank you for being with us. written -- i want to hear about both. first, make the case about the latino experience and how important we still -- baseball has been. cuba tocoming from puerto rico, venezuela, it goes
back to the 19th century. in some cases, for cuban, before there was cuba, there was baseball. that validates their sense of identity. baseball, what makes it unique for latinos is that we are the first group of immigrants to the u.s. it came with baseball. baseball was not a means of assimilation, the same way it would be for european immigrants . we already arrived with baseball. we see a different process of acculturation. we already claimed it. before we get to your personal involvement, what is it about this or that made it so popular? adrian: the moment and arrived in cuba and why. to resist begun
colonial rule. .hey stopped sending their kids they started sending them to mobile, alabama and washington at to schools in the u.s. precisely the moment that baseball was starting to flourish. they brought baseball back with them. they gave it their own meaning. it was about achieving identity, a distinct sporting culture that made them distinct from the spanish ruling. they talk about baseball as democratic. everyone got to take their turn at that. they literally wrote this in many scripts and articles about how baseball is forging a democratic identity and to push for independence. susan: how did you get involved? adrian: i played high school ball. i played college ball.
it goes back. we used to go to church in the bronx. we would be there, making a joyful noise. the music we had was like southwest this -- baptist christian songs. the same people making the joyful noise in the morning were like shrek now, run. what inspires that passion? i get to learn more about my own family's history and how baseball has always been a part of the family's cultural dna. i sent my first look manuscript to the university of california press. it is being pumped out. i go to celebrate that moment with my parents in georgia. one of my uncles came to join with us. his name is jose.
i turned to him. did you know that there was a puerto rican player who also played in the puerto rican league with your name? he said, did you know your grandmother named me after him? i had no idea. is ball.other's love it was something that i inherited from them. beyond.on it is not just a manly thing, it is a family thing for us. susan: when you decided to become a historian and became one of the professors -- and went to one of your professors, what was their reaction? professor michael o'malley was my advisor. i said, i would love to write on baseball in the caribbean.
he saw the value in that. it, butd the value of the rest of the faculty asked --s this have the historical when i was applying to graduate inool, i had this project mind. i went to visit the university of michigan, one of the schools that accepted me. i was walking past the library with rebecca's that -- rebecca scott. was a great subject. she took my ideas seriously. taking itott is seriously. this is the place i need to go to. that is what helped inspire me to continue with that project because they saw there was a bigger story about the creation,
the identity, about trans nationalism. you are speaking at the epidemic gathering -- academic having. public history is another field altogether. you bridged both of them with this sport. you are active on social media, blogs, television and radio. talk about keeping a foot in one of each of these camps as a historian. adrian: the important thing is how we make the history relevant for a broad audience. that is why engagement with a --lic that goes beyond his the university is so important -- so important. what these players went through is very similar to the same kind of dynamic to what anyone to know immigrant -- any latino
immigrant experiences. it is a story that we can share. the other part that i think is important wherever i go to speak is, people do not have a grasp of how long a u.s.'s story -- a latino history is. the latino culture has survived the pool of both nations from home and the new home. we have created a culture around that idea. i am bilingual. i love baseball. baseball is a part of how i have always been american. how i tried to transmit to a broader public. year: a very important with the hiring of jacky rosen.
is there a similar -- jackie robinson. what we learned about studying the inclusion of latinos in u.s. professional baseball is how the line worked. expelled them from organized baseball. what we see with latinos is, where was that exclusionary point and how it changed. in many instances, it was the owners and upper management and major league baseball that andted categories of race the point of exclusion along that color line. over 240 latinos played in the negor league prior to jackie robinson. there was a handful, that a dozen who played in both.
what does that tell us? it tells us that the color line was changing. people have the power to change it. we always have the power to change inclusion or exclusion in baseball. susan: the history of the inclusion, did it matter how dark your skin was? adrian: a totally matted. we saw the first wave of cubans breaking into the major-league area -- major-league. they were primarily lighter skinned. in the 1980's, humans were sending their kids to the u.s. for education. it is their children, their grandchildren who broke into the major leagues. at the same time, you have darker skin people playing. you had some lighter skinned cubans playing in the league.
is light enough, let's try to get him in. that is how they broke into major leagues before jackie robinson. susan: what are the biggest names in hispanic history in baseball that people should know? adrian: he was the first lack .atino came into major leagues everyone thought he was a black man. there were other latinos, and cuban known as a mulatto who made it into major league baseball and face a lot of hostility. n wordcalled the constantly. --y fit that ambiguity because he said that ambiguity
-- he fit that ambiguity. he was cuban, not black. important.ry that is he played in the 1880's with the providence grays. he was mexican american. he was presented to the public becausepanish catcher march 10 as an actual mexican to mark himntity -- as an actual mexican american .dentity to make him spanish, that is acceptable because he is european. the categories were being used and manipulated. is latino,ample, he but he explains the story of latinos in baseball.
he told sporting life magazine, had i not been so dark, i might have passed as a spaniard at that time. here you have an of -- an african-american who understands how baseball is being manipulated in the u.s. just the dominicans who just arrived or the cubans who defected. they are all connected to a longer story. susan: what is life like for latino baseball players today -- players today? adrian: coming out of venezuela , they are being immersed in a english-speaking culture. they go through that experience of learning how to culture it, learning how to deal with how to order food. it is not just their talent on
the field that will get them to the major-league, it is can they deal with the off field issues of acculturation. that is a similar experience to .hat other players went through it is a consistent line for latinos. susan: a very contemporary question as a close. the hurricane damage in puerto rico. it has been a baseball crazy society where many recruits come from. what happens now that the island is so ravaged? adrian: we just published an article last week that talked about this situation. the mayor of san juan was at the press conference with the puerto league, who will
play a season this year. a start this weekend. we need to heal and recover. sports is a full that helps us with that. it is something to cheer about. that is what the houston astros accomplished on the field and help to energize the puerto rican people in the midst of really dire circumstances with lack of electricity, water. we look to these players because it is a tradition about being resilient. people who are baseball history fanatics like yourselves where we can find your blog. -- we: the produce videos produce videos. susan: thank you so much for
talking to us briefly about a long and complex history of latinos in base all. >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. 50 years ago on march 16th 1968, u.s. army soldiers tilt between 300 and 500 unarmed vietnamese civilians in the village of my lai. although the incident was so -- was reported, it did not become public until november of 1969 when independent investigative journalist seymour published it. up next on reel america, interviews with my lai veterans. this 22 minute documentary recounts the my lai