What was the difference between black baseball players and Hispanic ball players in the early days?Please tell me which side had the most difficulty while playing in the field and out. Also...

What was the difference between black baseball players and Hispanic ball players in the early days?

Please tell me which side had the most difficulty while playing in the field and out. Also discuss how their race affected their talent and future.

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Basically, black-skinned Latinos were not allowed to play in the Major Leagues, while white- or light-skinned Latinos were acceptable in the days before the signing of Jackie Robinson. Interestingly, all Latinos--no matter the color of their skin--were acceptable additions to the American Negro Leagues. Although Latino players were rare in the Major Leagues prior to World War II, they had been participating since the 1870s. Additionally, at least 11 Latino players were known to have played in both the Major and Negro Leagues.

    Writing in (the) Journal of Negro History Adrian Burgos, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, says that the U.S. idea of "race" was problematic for Latinos who had to learn to negotiate this American reality.
    According to Burgos, "They were neither [B]lack nor white as so defined in U.S. racial terms." Socially, for example, Black Cubans who played in the United States were not considered "Negroes," but as foreigners or Latin Americans. Black Cubans and non-white Latinos, however, were generally not permitted into the major leagues. This was particularly true prior to World War II. (Burgos was able to find 11 Latino baseball players who played in both the Negro Leagues and the major leagues.) 
    While Latino baseball players were generally segregated on the baseball field, they were subjected to less societal discrimination than African Americans, says F61ix Masud-Piloto, director of the Center for Latino Research at De Paul University. For that reason, says Masud-Piloto, some members of the Negro leagues often tried to pass themselves off as Cubans when seeking lodging or meals. There were also times when Latinos on the Black teams would have to order food for everyone to ensure they all were fed.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that both faced their own sense of challenges in attempting to play a game that was predominantly White.  Certainly, Black ballplayers had to face questions on the field about their ability to be coached, their intelligence, and have to battle social misjudgment on the field in relation to their play.  Off the field, it was fairly horrendous to be a Black ballplayer in a White person's sport.  The threats, harassment, and constant barage of racist garbage had to be awful.  Some suggest that Jackie Robinson's health deteriorated so quickly because of all he had to endure.  Black ballplayers had it doubly worse because not only did they have to take much of what was thrown at them, but if they made a mistake, they took it double:  Once as a ball player and again as a Black ball player.  Hispanic ballplayers endured somewhat of the same predicament as the Black ball player, but they had to fight through an entirely different culture, language, as well as different and new forms of recognition in their appropriation of the game.  Like the Black ball player, ignorance met them at every turn, but along with this experience came a new and different conception of what it meant to be in America.  In the end, I am not sure if there is a group that had it more difficult than the other.  Both groups of athletes had to suffer through an immeasurable lot in order to find personal happiness in a game they love.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before Jackie Robinson debuted in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, there were very few Hispanic ballplayers and no black players.  The first Latin American to play in the major leagues was Luis Castro from Colombia who pioneered for his race in 1902.  Also, Cuban Aldopho Luque, who won 27 games in 1923 and 194 in his career, left a mark for his race.  But, until Robinson's break through black Hispanics were not allowed in baseball.

According to a report released by the Commissioner of Baseball's office, there are 246 players from 15 different foreign countries on the rosters of major league teams this 2010 season.  Of these, 210 come from Latin America, with 98 from the Dominican Republic, and 51 from Venzuela. Puerto Rica, Mexico, Panama,Cuba, Colombia, Aruba, Curacao, and Nicaragua also have representatives.

Since 1947 there have been 16 Hispanics who have won Most Valuable Player awards, 9 Cy Young awards, 16 Rookie of the Year, and 3 Manager of the Year.  In the Hall of Fame there are such greats as Roberto Clemente from Puerto Rico (1970), Juan Marichal of the Dominican Republic (1983),Luis Aparicio from Venzuela (1984), Rod Carew of Panama (1991), Tony Perez of Cuba (2000), Jose Mendez of Cuba (2006), and Cristobel Torriente of Cuba (2006).