14 photographs, 1 appendix, index
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.