I've just finished a new play called, Kansas City Swing, that takes place in 1947, the year Jackie Robinson entered Major League Baseball. My play, however, is about that other great black superstar, Satchel Paige, and his long-standing rivalry with Bob Feller, two of the very best pitchers in the history of the game. The summer before Robinson integrated the MLB Paige and Feller electrified the nation and made themselves extremely rich, barnstorming the country,pitting black all-stars against white.
The next summer, after Robinson, their off-season business venture was a total flop. Nobody came out to see them. In fact the Negro Leagues themselves, soon after Robinson broke the color barrier, dried up and disappeared.
Of course integration in general was, and is, a great boon, but pre-Robinson the Negro Leagues were the black community's single-most important economic engine. Not just the ticket sales but the hotels and restaurants that grew up around the league gave economic opportunities to thousands of black business people around the nation.
Today, blacks and women aren't represented nearly enough in the business supply chain of the MLB. Fortunately the MLB knows this, so they are hosting the first ever "MLB Diversity Business Summit," next month, July 24th, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.
Baseball is reaching out. If you have any interest in doing business with the MLB go to Chicago and make yourself heard.
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