By the year 2001, the National Baseball Hall of Fame had enshrined 24 former Negro League Players, from players who eventually helped integrate the previously white major leagues like Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Roy Campanella, to those who starred only in the Negro League, such as Buck Leonard and “Cool Papa” Bell. In 2006, however, the Hall of Fame tried to usher in all those Negro Leaguers who still deserved inclusion after a thorough study of existing records. That led to the enshrinement of an additional 12 players, who, while lesser known than those who preceded them into the Cooperstown shrine, enjoy the spotlight in this compact book.
Here’s an excerpt from The Last Train to Cooperstown:
“Despite being kept out of white organized professional baseball, African American ballplayers had the opportunity to compete against white professional players. In the fall after the regular season ended, many white players would make extra money by forming teams to play exhibition games against Negro League players. The practice was called ‘barnstorming’ as the white and black teams would travel from city to city to play games. Because the black teams would win as many or even more times than the white ones, Major League executives tried unsuccessfully to discourage their players from barnstorming. Black players also competed against white Major Leaguers in the winter leagues that operated during November and December in the Caribbean and California.”