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  • #46
    Originally posted by DoubleX View Post
    I also wonder about how many African-Americans were just turned off to the prospect of the Negro Leagues or baseball in general because of the segregation aspect of it - for some, it could have been hard to revel in the National Pastime while living in areas where the community did as much as possible to exclude them from feeling apart from the national society. To illustrate this last point, in 1930s America, who do you think is more likely to pick up a bat and aspire to be a professional baseball player - a young white kid or a young black kid?
    Consider someone born in 1930. The major leagues weren't integrated until the year he turned 17. If he's good enough to make the majors, he won't do so until the early 1950s. That's when we see Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Ernie Banks arriving on the scene; all of them came out of the Negro Leagues.

    Someone born in 1935 wouldn't reach his peak years until the early 1960s. If segregation had turned that person away from the game, he wouldn't have picked up the game until he turned twelve, and, while there have been some players who didn't play until they were older, most future major leaguers were had been playing pick-up games against nearby kids for several years by then.

    Given the proportion of African-American stars in baseball during the 1950s and the early 1960s, it's doubtful that many Black youths of the 1930s were turned away from the game by MLB segregation.

    -----

    I'm also doubtful about politics turning children away from certain sports. Baseball was the national pastime in 1930s America - but the rising tide of Japanese nationalism then couldn't draw children away from baseball. There had been baseball in Cuba for several decades before the Spanish-American War, but the installation of an American puppet government and the presence of an American military threat afterwards couldn't stop baseball there; if anything, baseball started to bloom in Cuba in the early 1900s. Even after the Cuban Revolution, baseball stayed popular. Baseball had become part of the culture among the African-American community, and segregation wasn't enough to drive it out of the culture.

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    • #47
      A Bad Idea

      I think the idea of assigning a specific point system to determine HOF voting is a bad idea. While I agree that the writers have often elected the wrong guys (and left the right ones out, like Jim Rice), I don't think a point system based on a player's statistics is the way to go. Final HOF decisions should be a blend of objective statistical data alongside less formal, subjective considerations. This is the same approach I utilized in my book, Stat One, when analyzing players for the HOF and assigning various ratings, rankings, and top-10 and top-100 lists.
      Visit www.statonebaseball.com to learn why traditional statistics are ultimately flawed...and why P/E Averages are not!

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by AG2004 View Post
        Given the proportion of African-American stars in baseball during the 1950s and the early 1960s, it's doubtful that many Black youths of the 1930s were turned away from the game by MLB segregation.
        Perhaps, but I'm sure more black kids were turned off to pursuing baseball by segregation, just as they were turned off from many other pursuits, than white children. And that's the root of this tangent, that the Negro Leagues had a shallower talent pool than the Majors, both in terms of total population and then perhaps in terms of segments of the population internalizing segregation to limiting the scope of their pursuits. This obviously didn't happen to everyone in the African-American community, or even a large segment of it, but it likely happened a lot more in the African-American community than in the white community. Plus, there's also the fact that as mentioned earlier in this thread, the Negro Leagues lacked the scouting and the organizational depth of the Major Leagues, making it more difficult to link African-Americans that might be inclined and skilled enough to play the game, to the game, thus further diminishing the talent depth in comparison to the majors.

        I'm also doubtful about politics turning children away from certain sports. Baseball was the national pastime in 1930s America - but the rising tide of Japanese nationalism then couldn't draw children away from baseball. There had been baseball in Cuba for several decades before the Spanish-American War, but the installation of an American puppet government and the presence of an American military threat afterwards couldn't stop baseball there; if anything, baseball started to bloom in Cuba in the early 1900s. Even after the Cuban Revolution, baseball stayed popular. Baseball had become part of the culture among the African-American community, and segregation wasn't enough to drive it out of the culture.
        This ignores the difference between baseball as a hobby and trying to pursue it as a profession. For many African-Americans in the era of Jim Crow and segregation, baseball, like most other professions, were just not realistic options. Again, the root of this is that in segregated America there was much more going against an African-American becoming a professional ballplayer than a white person. I don't think it could even be called remotely close to even in terms of opportunity, access, and drive, and the effect was the talent of the Negro Leagues being much shallower than the Majors, in addition to the shallowness already brought on by a smaller population pool.

        There seems to be a thought in this thread that separate was equal. That a black kid could just as easily aspire to and then play professional ball as a white kid in segregated America. That was likely far from the case - separate was not equal in anything, including the pursuit of professional baseball.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by DoubleX View Post
          Jim, the opposite is true - I am fully considering that opportunities were limited in every aspect of life, and that includes baseball. Baseball may have been more realistic than say becoming a lawyer, but it was still less realistic than the limited options that were available or that they internalized as being available. Like I said, in 1930s America, particularly in the south, I think it was much more likely for a white kid to pick up a bat and dream of professional baseball than it was for a black kid, just as it was for a black kid in most any other pursuit as compared to a white kid. It was a de facto stratified society, with African-Americans largely filling the occupations at the low end, mostly because it was ingrained in them, as documented by the NAACP, that they couldn't do more, and that includes baseball. Of course this is not meant to be a generalization, just meant to say that for some, the presence of segregation may have had a profound subconscious effect on their psyche that prevented them from branching out and pursuing something like baseball, just as it would have prevented many from pursuing law or medicine or anything different than the lower occupations that they seemed designated for. Of course this didn't apply to everyone, but it was an impediment effecting African-Americans that did not effect the white population.
          But white kids had options to become physicians, lawyers, etc. The time almost any animal will fight its hardest is when it is cornered, i.e., without options. That translates to what sportswriters love to call "drive". It's at least a major reason in why the lower economic strata have dominated sports for a long time, plus perhaps the fact the lower economic strata have had more physical labor in general than the higher ones. What I'm saying is that the injury to the psyche you describe, while real, pales compared to economic necessity.
          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by DoubleX View Post
            There seems to be a thought in this thread that separate was equal. That a black kid could just as easily aspire to and then play professional ball as a white kid in segregated America. That was likely far from the case - separate was not equal in anything, including the pursuit of professional baseball.
            I don't think this is accurate. I don't see anyone arguing that separate is equal. For a middling level player and below, a lot of what you say is probably true. But for the more talented players, while the Negro Leagues were hardly as attractive as the majors, there were probably about the same degree of chance to make it to the highest level played by one's race. Furthermore, baseball was still a golden opportunity and hard to resist given the economic realities.
            Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
            Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
            A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

            Comment


            • #51
              Is there enough information out there to do a statistical analysis of African American baseball players and their places of origin from the beginning of baseball up to roughly the 1980s that adjusts for overall population?

              It'd be an interesting project for someone with the time and inclination if it hasn't been done already.

              From 1910-1920 during the Great Migration, roughly 500,000 African Americans moved north to NY, Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis. By the 1930s, the African American population as a whole occupied urban areas much more so than rural areas. While I don't doubt that African Americans living in rural areas (as well as whites living in rural areas) were extremely limited in terms of what they could do for leisure and for pay, in urban areas, I assume many pursued sports like baseball.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by jalbright View Post
                But white kids had options to become physicians, lawyers, etc. The time almost any animal will fight its hardest is when it is cornered, i.e., without options. That translates to what sportswriters love to call "drive". It's at least a major reason in why the lower economic strata have dominated sports for a long time, plus perhaps the fact the lower economic strata have had more physical labor in general than the higher ones. What I'm saying is that the injury to the psyche you describe, while real, pales compared to economic necessity.
                This is a very good point and would dilute white talent pool much moreso than the black talent pool. I still believe in my original point though that whites did not have to deal with overcoming the institutionalized hurdles of segregation like blacks did. There was nothing like segregation to put a kabosh on opportunities, access, and just general self-esteem and drive, on whites like there were on blacks. The point is, that effects that segregation could have on the psyche, like that which the NAACP researched, was just one factor that may have cut off some of the black population from deciding pursuing baseball, while it wasn't for the white population. I'm not trying to generalize here, just saying it was a factor obstructing one group but not another, and not assigning a quantitative value to it.

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by jjpm74 View Post
                  Is there enough information out there to do a statistical analysis of African American baseball players and their places of origin from the beginning of baseball up to roughly the 1980s that adjusts for overall population?

                  It'd be an interesting project for someone with the time and inclination if it hasn't been done already.

                  From 1910-1920 during the Great Migration, roughly 500,000 African Americans moved north to NY, Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis. By the 1930s, the African American population as a whole occupied urban areas much more so than rural areas. While I don't doubt that African Americans living in rural areas (as well as whites living in rural areas) were extremely limited in terms of what they could do for leisure and for pay, in urban areas, I assume many pursued sports like baseball.
                  I was wondering the same thing. Also, the interesting thing about your last point is that now the reverse is true - baseball is no longer a dominant urban sport, and that likely has a lot to do with the huge decline of African-Americans in the game.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by DoubleX View Post
                    I was wondering the same thing. Also, the interesting thing about your last point is that now the reverse is true - baseball is no longer a dominant urban sport, and that likely has a lot to do with the huge decline of African-Americans in the game.

                    That and it is much easier to find a basketball court to play on in an urban area than it is to find a baseball field as it takes up much less space and requires far less equipment.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      missing birth place

                      Originally posted by jjpm74 View Post
                      Is there enough information out there to do a statistical analysis of African American baseball players and their places of origin from the beginning of baseball up to roughly the 1980s that adjusts for overall population?

                      It'd be an interesting project for someone with the time and inclination if it hasn't been done already.
                      The adjustment for population will be tricky and debatable so it should be undertaken gradually by multiple people who can easily use essentially the same data. In other words we need someone to compile and digitize and release rather than hoard.
                      (I don't know how much vital data the HOF-administered project compiled. No one should do much on a grand scale before learning that, or learning that that will not be released.)

                      Why will the adjustment for population be tricky and debatable? For one thing any use of general population as a point of reference should probably do the same for white ballplayers at the same time. How many whites born in the deep south played in the major leagues 1900-1909, relative to whites from the upper south, whites from the west (beyond KS and NE), whites in the north?

                      Even for whites there is nearly comprehensive data only for major league players and managers.

                      --
                      I do have some prominent "Negro Leaguers" in my desktop database, with data from Riley's Encyclopedia (2001 or so).

                      21 Hall of Fame members before 2006
                      17 elected in 2006
                      22 nominated stage three, not elected
                      55 nominated stage two, not stage three

                      The birth city is known for everyone in the first three groups. (If Riley was missing anyone in 2000, reaching the final stage before election in 2006 probably motivated someone's divulgence or discovery of the data.) But for the last group 11 of 55 birth cities are missing! This is still a very select group --Riley claims more than 4000 entries for people-- so 20% missing suggests that the data degrade rapidly with decreasing prominence. Probably missingness is correlated with birth city so this is serious and there is a desperate need for better data in order to undertakes analysis like jjpm suggests.

                      Birth city is missing for 6 of 28 other players on Bill James's lists of top ten by fielding position (other meaning not among the 94 nominees).
                      Birth city is missing for 12 of 29 other people named in the Pittsburgh Courier 1952 poll (other meaning not among the 94 nominees).

                      The Hall of Fame didn't make any effort to close gaps for the two latter groups, and publication of the nominee list didn't stimulate any outsider research, but these players were all among the 10% most prominent of Riley's 4000. Again, that's a lot of missing data.

                      There are only 13 other "Negro Leaguers" in my database, mainly players with discussion pages at the Hall of Merit. 3 of 13 birth cities are missing.

                      add: In sum that is 31 of 122 missing birth cities for people in the next tier or two below 2006 finalist for election to the HOF. Almost all vital data from Riley's 2nd edition.
                      Last edited by Paul Wendt; 04-22-2008, 02:14 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Paul Wendt View Post
                        Why will the adjustment for population be tricky and debatable? For one thing any use of general population as a point of reference should probably do the same for white ballplayers at the same time. How many whites born in the deep south played in the major leagues 1900-1909, relative to whites from the upper south, whites from the west (beyond KS and NE), whites in the north?
                        In order for such an undertaking to be comprehensive, there would need to be an even greater breakdown than that. Using census reports from the time, it'd also be useful to see what percentage of the black population was living where at this time as well as comparing to white players from this period.

                        add: In sum that is 31 of 122 missing birth cities for people in the next tier or two below 2006 finalist for election to the HOF. Almost all vital data from Riley's 2nd edition.
                        That'd leave out 25% of the population conservatively which would be problematic if doing such research. I say conservatively, because in all likelihood as we get to the lesser known players from the NeL and pre-NeL, that number would jump dramatically. Another potential problem would be what leagues to include in conducting this type of research. Would the Cuban leagues count? What about Mexican and Pacific Coast leagues from this era? Military leagues?

                        Are the records regarding African-American ballplayers who made their debut in the Majors between 1947 and 1965 more complete? What about the Negro Leagues from 1947 until their demise during that same period? It might be more realistic to use this subset for comparison until better records are compiled for the earlier generations and better parameters set.
                        Last edited by jjpm74; 04-22-2008, 03:42 PM.

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                        • #57
                          Since most sport witers get the hall of fame voting wrong, why not let the fans or even the players, coaches, and mangers vote instead. These guys are around the players everyday, so they know the great one from the good ones.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by wardawg View Post
                            Since most sport witers get the hall of fame voting wrong, why not let the fans or even the players, coaches, and mangers vote instead. These guys are around the players everyday, so they know the great one from the good ones.
                            What do you mean by get it wrong? Who have the writers voted in that is undeserving?
                            The writers are around the players everyday, as well. That is their job, after all. Covering the home team for the paper where they do their writing.

                            Coaches and managers vote for Golden Gloves. They make more mistakes there than the writers ever did for the HOF. They are also far more prone to bias than the writers.

                            Players also have their biases. They have enough to do trying to focus on their own career and what they can do for their team than to also worry about someone else getting in the HOF. Heck, the same sure goes for coaches and managers.

                            As for the fans, I think having injured players get voted into the all-star game year after year shows how effective that would be.
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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Captain Cold Nose View Post
                              They are also far more prone to bias than the writers.
                              What bias? It would just mean that there are times they may be voting for or against themselves!

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                              • #60
                                I didn't mean who the writers have voted in that were undesevering, but rather who they have not voted in.

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