FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In Praise of Jules Tygiel

For many of us who study race and baseball, Jules Tygiel’s Baseball’s Great Experiment remains one of the most sophisticated treatments of baseball’s integration and its impact on U.S. society. It is one of the most widely read books on Jackie Robinson and baseball integration, and justly so.

Tygiel approached the integration of baseball as more than just a story of the Major Leagues. He interviewed dozens of Negro League players and researched white mainstream and black newspapers to craft a narrative that allowed readers to understand the profound impact that segregation had on the US national pastime and the complicated terrain that integration pioneers traversed as the participated in the process of desegregating organized baseball.

I first read Baseball’s Great Experiment as an undergraduate working on a senior’s thesis on baseball’s introduction to the Caribbean. Reading the stories he wrote on how racial perceptions in communities throughout the United States affected Latinos such as Vic Power, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and Minnie Miñoso as organized baseball underwent its transformation inspired me to chart a new path of research: To study Latinos, baseball, and race as a way to better comprehend the impact of baseball’s color line and gain a fuller appreciation of the story of race in American life.

I first met Jules Tygiel at an annual meeting of the North American Society of Sport Historians where he was to deliver a keynote address. I was a young graduate student at University of Michigan and extremely excited to meet the man who had crafted such a compelling narrative of baseball integration.

I approached his table with trepidation, hoping to just say hello and thank him for the inspiration. He insisted I sit and that we talk. There began a collegial relationship that evolved into an intellectual collaboration. Indeed, not all senior scholars are eager to entertain young scholars seeking to address what some may perceive as a ‘gap’ in their scholarship.

Jules Tygiel was more than a historian, to me and many other young historians working inside and outside of academe, whether writing on baseball, urban history, or politics. Yes, he was an exemplar as a baseball historian, a standard bearer about how to write baseball history in a scholarly manner that is accessible to a popular audience. But, he was also very giving of his time, willing to share his wealth of knowledge and information, and offer advice and encouragement.

A number of years ago, when the University of California Press asked me for names of potential reviewers of my book manuscript, his name came immediately to mind—who better to entrust the years of work invested in this project than the individual who helped inspired it. In the end, Jules read my book manuscript several times and gave thorough and thoughtful criticism. Whatever success my book Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line has enjoyed since its release is a credit to his wonderful, giving spirit and his gracefulness as a senior scholar committed to mentoring the next generation.

Last year’s All-Star Game Week festivities in San Francisco gave me the opportunity to meet Jules again in person. I was in town to do a book signing at the Mission Bay Borders Bookstore across from the Giants ballpark, conduct some interviews, and catch up with a few friends. It was also the first chance I had to personally thank him for his inspiration, guidance, and encouragement through the years after the publication of my book the previous month.

The highlight of my time in San Francisco was talking baseball, history, and about life in academe with Jules, and being given a tour of his beloved San Francisco—a Brooklyn transplant, Jules had long come to grips with rooting for the Giants.

I was hoping to catch up again next month in San Francisco when I attend a friend’s wedding and a Dodgers-Giants game. But the cancer that had been in remission had made an unwelcomed comeback.

He will be missed, but his impact will continue through the scholars and historians he mentored and the scholarship they produce.

ADRIAN BURGOS is a professor at the University of Illinois.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail