The Integration of the Pacific Coast League


The Integration of the Pacific Coast League

Race and Baseball on the West Coast

Amy Essington

192 pages
14 photographs, 1 appendix, index


June 2018


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

June 2018


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

June 2018


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

While Jackie Robinson’s 1947 season with the Brooklyn Dodgers made him the first African American to play in the Major Leagues in the modern era, the rest of Major League Baseball was slow to integrate while its Minor League affiliates moved faster. The Pacific Coast League (PCL), a Minor League with its own social customs, practices, and racial history, and the only legitimate sports league on the West Coast, became one of the first leagues in any sport to completely desegregate all its teams. Although far from a model of racial equality, the Pacific Coast states created a racial reality that was more diverse and adaptable than in other parts of the country.

The Integration of the Pacific Coast League describes the evolution of the PCL beginning with the league’s differing treatment of African Americans and other nonwhite players. Between the 1900s and the 1930s, team owners knowingly signed Hawaiian players, Asian players, and African American players who claimed that they were Native Americans, who were not officially banned. In the post–World War II era, with the pressures and challenges facing desegregation, the league gradually accepted African American players. In the 1940s individual players and the local press challenged the segregation of the league. Because these Minor League teams integrated so much earlier than the Major Leagues or the eastern Minor Leagues, West Coast baseball fans were the first to experience a more diverse baseball game. 

Author Bio

Amy Essington is an instructor in the history department at California State University, Fullerton.


"Amy Essington’s The Integration of the Pacific Coast League: Race and Baseball on the West Coast points towards the underappreciated and vastly overlooked Minor League Baseball (MiLB) as an important new direction for scholars interested in baseball’s desegregation."—David Lucander, NINE

"Jackie Robinson was a trailblazer in integrating major league baseball, but as Essington shows, there were pioneers at the minor-league level who also blazed a path for a future generation of African American players. The Pacific Coast League integrated quickly and was ages ahead of other areas of the country. Essington's book provides readers with a concise, useful examination of that progress."—Bob D’Angelo, Sport in American History

"The West Coast's reputation as socially progressive was a factor even in sports. Amy Essington . . . tells the story of how the Pacific Coast League, a popular minor league before the majors' westward expansion, became one of the first leagues in any sport to integrate throughout."—Ross Atkin, Christian Science Monitor

"Essington's book is a worthy exploration of race, baseball, and American culture in the postwar American West. Historians and members of the general public interested in race, civil rights, baseball, and the American West should find this book useful and informative."—Robert Bauman, Oregon Historical Society

“The desegregation of the Pacific Coast League is a story that has never been fully told until now. Amy Essington gives a thorough account of the process and the individuals. . . . Essington explains the story beyond Robinson and Rickey. A definite must-read.”—Leslie Heaphy, editor of Satchel Paige and Company: Essays on the Kansas City Monarchs, Their Greatest Star, and the Negro Leagues

“Based on a subject that has received too little attention from sports historians, The Integration of the Pacific Coast League explores the important role that the PCL played in the integration of baseball and how it became one of the first sports leagues to be fully integrated.”—Dick Beverage, founder and former president of the Pacific Coast League Historical Society

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Baseball, the Color Line, and the Pacific Coast League before World War II
2. Baseball, the Color Line, and the Pacific Coast League in the 1940s
3. John Ritchey Integrates the San Diego Padres, 1948
4. Momentum and Challenges, 1949
5. The Pacific Coast League Integrates, 1950–52

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