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Baseball Rebels

The Players, People, and Social Movements That Shook Up the Game and Changed America

Peter Dreier

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 04/2022
Pages: 440
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496231765


In Baseball Rebels Peter Dreier and Robert Elias examine the key social challenges racism, sexism and homophobia that shaped society and worked their way into baseball's culture, economics, and politics. Since baseball emerged in the mid-1800s to become America's pastime, the nation's battles over race, gender, and sexuality have been reflected on the playing field, in the executive suites, in the press box, and in the community. Some of baseball's rebels are widely recognized, but most of them are either little known or known primarily for their baseball achievements not their political views and activism. Everyone knows the story of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color line, but less known is Sam Nahem, who opposed the racial divide in the U.S. military and organized an integrated military team that won a championship in 1945. Or Toni Stone, the first of three women who played for the Indianapolis Clowns in the previously all-male Negro Leagues. Or Dave Pallone, MLB's first gay umpire. Many players, owners, reporters, and other activists challenged both the baseball establishment and society's status quo.Baseball Rebels tells stories of baseball's reformers and radicals who were influenced by, and in turn influenced, America's broader political and social protest movements, making the game and society better along the way.


Peter Dreier is E.?P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. A former newspaper reporter, community organizer, and senior policy adviser to former Boston mayor Ray Flynn, he has authored or coauthored seven books, including The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. Robert Elias is a professor of politics and legal studies at the University of San Francisco. He is the author of several books, including Baseball and the American Dream: Race, Class, Gender, and the National Pastime. Dave Zirin is the author of several books, the sports editor for The Nation, and host of the weekly Edge of Sports podcast and radio show.


"Baseball is America's game: it's a game with an important and often-overlooked history of rebellion, and one that, with fits and starts, has helped lead the nation's fight against racism, sexism, and homophobia. Don't believe me? This incisive and compelling book proves it. . . . Highly recommended."?Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man and Opening Day ?

"It's not just that Baseball Rebels homes in on the heroes (and reprobates) in the ongoing battles for civil rights and against gender discrimination. It's that it does it with grace and humanity, telling must-read stories of barrier-breakers we know, like Satchel Paige, and others we ought to, like Frank Sykes."?Larry Tye, author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend ?

"Baseball began in the cities, from a nostalgic longing for an agrarian paradise more ideal than real. That idealism?a wish for fairness and harmony on a level playing field?animated all that came after and is splendidly delineated in Robert Elias?and Peter Dreier's new book. Who is in, who is out, and who gets to decide: that has been the banner under which all baseball's rebels have marched."?John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball ? ?