SIU Department Name | Page Title

siu logo siupress logo

SIU logo


Main Content Area

American Game

American Game

Baseball and Ethnicity

Add to Cart

Edited by Lawrence Baldassaro and Richard A. Johnson. Foreword by Allan (Bud) Selig


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
232 pages, 6 x 9, 21 illustrations

Writing Baseball


Additional Materials

About the Book

These nine essays selected by Lawrence Baldassaro and Richard A. Johnson present for the first time in a single volume an ethnic and racial profile of American baseball. These essayists show how the gradual involvement by various ethnic and racial groups reflects the changing nature of baseball—and of American society as a whole—over the course of the twentieth century.

Although the sport could not truly be called representative of America until after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947, fascination with the ethnic backgrounds of the players began more than a century ago when athletes of German and Irish descent entered the major leagues in large numbers. In the 1920s, commentators noted the influx of ballplayers of Italian and Slavic origins and wondered why there were not more Jewish players in the big leagues. The era following World War II, however, saw the most dramatic ethnographic shift with the belated entry of African American ballplayers. The pattern of ethnic succession continues as players of Hispanic and Asian origin infuse fresh excitement and renewal into the major leagues.


Lawrence Baldassaro, a professor of Italian and comparative literature and director of the University Honors Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is the editor of The Ted Williams Reader.

Richard A. Johnson has served as the curator of the Sports Museum of New England since 1982. His seven books include DiMaggio: An Illustrated Life, The Twentieth-Century Baseball Chronicle, Red Sox Century, and Boston Braves.


“[T]oday baseball reflects the American population as well as or better than any other sport or enterprise. In fact, with each year, more and more of our players come from foreign countries, particularly the great talent that has come from the Caribbean and Latin America. At the start of the 2000 major-league baseball season, 198 players, nearly 24 percent of all players on major league rosters, were born outside the fifty states. They represented sixteen different foreign countries and Puerto Rico.”—Bud Selig, Commissioner of Baseball, from the Foreword