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In 'Raceball', A Look At Players And Race

Mar 11, 2011 (All Things Considered)

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Rob Ruck is a senior lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of The Tropic of Baseball and Sandlot Seasons.

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The Boston Red Sox faced off Sunday in spring training against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baseball, apple pie, mom: What could be more American? How about the players?

Pedro Alvarez, Ronnie Cedeno and Jose Tabata play for the Pirates. Alvarez is from the Dominican Republic and Cedeno and Tabata from Venezuela.

In fact, more than a quarter of the players in Major League Baseball are from Latin America and the Caribbean — and they are among the league's best.

But not too long ago, African-Americans played a much bigger role in baseball. In the mid-1970s, a quarter of all players were black Americans. Today, it's one in 10.

Baseball historian Rob Ruck writes about how that happened in his new book, Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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