Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

During the decades between 1890 and 1947, African Americans were barred by an unwritten agreement among management from playing professional baseball with white players. Nevertheless, these athletes developed their own brand of professional baseball epitomized by the Negro Leagues. Within this organization was played a quality game often equivalent to that in all-white Major League Baseball. Playing America’s Game is a story of the Negro Leagues.

In his opening chapter, Michael L. Cooper describes the excitement of “The Dream Game,” the annual East-West All-Star Classic played between the stars from the Negro Leagues. It was in this annual event that African American athletes truly were able to demonstrate their talents. Held at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the game regularly was attended by as many as fifty thousand fans, most of them African American.

In both text and pictures, Cooper illustrates the talent that was generally missed by white baseball fans because of the racism inherent in organized baseball. From Rube Foster, the organizer of the Negro Leagues and one of its early stars, to Jackie Robinson, perhaps the most famous of league alumni, the author moves through the events that made up much of the leagues’ history.

Cooper begins his history with a summary of professional baseball’s early years in the nineteenth century. The belief that Robinson was the first African American Major League ballplayer is...

(The entire section is 535 words.)