Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947 — but the color barrier wasn't officially established until the formation of the National League in 1883. Before 1883, there was no rule precluding teams from fielding black players. That's not to say the game wasn't segregated by custom before it became the law — it was. Prejudiced white fans berated black players from the stands, black players were threatened with violence and were even the victims of violent attacks. But there are also instances, even back then, of Americans looking past race to play the game together. A New York newspaper from 1869 records a game between Philadelphia's best white team and best black team, and Moses Fleetwood Walker played catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884. But something in the national character changed, and the game, as it always does, reflected the worst in us just as easily as it can reveal the best in us. Blacks and whites couldn't play baseball together at the professional level again until Robinson. But baseball was still played, of course. The Negro Leagues provided a separate professional circuit for black players, while the MLB toiled on as a... More >>>