Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1995 Robert J. Utley. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Black Studies Program, Political Science Department


As it colored other aspects of American life before the Civil Rights Movement, segregation was an element present in baseball competition since its Civil War origins. As soldiers during the Civil War, Blacks and Whites learned the game of baseball together. Teams made up of Black soldiers would play teams of White soldiers. After the war, the popularity of the game spread and the game began to be woven into the fabric of American culture. By 1867, more than one hundred baseball clubs existed in Northern cities. Some of the clubs banded together under the banner of the National Association of Baseball Players (NABBP). In December of 1867, the NABBP annual convention met in Philadelphia. One of the issues discussed at this meeting was how to deal with the presence of Black ballplayers. The convention ended with the decision of the NABBP to ban Blacks from the Association. The Association also called for exclusion "of any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons."¹ The NABBP's successor, the National League, continued this policy though they did not have any written edict outlining this policy. Such was born baseball's "color line."