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
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 they participated in the process of desegregating organized baseball.
I first read Baseball’s Great Experiment as an undergraduate at Vassar College working on a senior’s thesis on baseball’s introduction to the
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
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 who set a standard for writing baseball history in a scholarly manner yet also 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
Last year’s All-Star Game Week festivities in
The highlight of my time in
I was hoping to catch up again next month in
He will be missed, but his impact will continue through the scholars and historians he mentored and the scholarship they produce.
posted on Counterpunch.com on July 11, 2008, http://www.counterpunch.org/burgos07112008.html