April 01, 2008

Exhibit on Indians in baseball

A salute to Native baseball playersThe Iroquois Indian Museum will present "Baseball's League of Nations: A Tribute to Native American Baseball Players," opening April 1. An opening reception and benefit party for the museum will be held April 5 from 3-6 p.m. Baseball's League of Nations is a multicultural tribute to American Indian baseball players past and present.

Louis Sockalexis of the Penobscot Nation was the first Native to appear on the Major League Baseball scene in 1897 as an outfielder for the Cleveland Spiders. That was half a century before Jackie Robinson officially integrated "America's National Pastime" in 1947.

This historic exhibit also features American Indian barnstorming teams such as Green's Nebraska Indians. Other teams and players featured include Native educator and former Syracuse University pitcher Mike Tarbell as well as his uncle Joe Tarbell, who played with the legendary Jim Thorpe at the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pa.

This exhibit also explores the use of activities such as baseball in the assimilation of Native children at boarding schools into mainstream American culture. The use of American Indian logos and mascots will also be addressed by this exhibit.
Comment:  So Jackie Robinson wasn't the first minority to play major-league baseball? An Indian beat him to it? Interesting. Until now I hadn't thought about that.


dmarks said...

"Comment: So Jackie Robinson wasn't the first minority to play major-league baseball? "

It all depends in what a minority is. The once-marginalized Irish? The Jewish people?

Rob said...

We usually don't count white ethnic groups as minorities. Why not? Because they always had the ability to "pass"--to integrate themselves into white society. They weren't kept out by an unalterable trait: their skin color.

To be sure, the Jews and Irish faced discrimination, but it wasn't of the Jim Crow variety. They were allowed to vote, own property, and marry (other) white people. Once they lost their accents and left their enclaves, they managed to fit in.

In short, I'm talking about the people who were and still are counted as minorities: blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Indians. They were the people locked out of baseball until 1947.