Robert Kuhn McGregor is a emeritus professor of history from the University of Illinois-Springfield. He taught among other things, a course on baseball. Using that career’s worth of knowledge, McGregor takes swing at the history behind the integration of the American League. Lesser known than the Jackie Robinson story, it is a story of courage that needed told before it was forgotten. Thus, A Calculus of Color came to be. McGregor begins his book with a brief introduction of the Negro Leagues. He finishes with the integration of the last team to do so, the Boston Red Sox. In taking this monster swing, McGregor hit a grand slam.
Negro League Ball
McGregor begins his book introducing the reader to the Negro Leagues. Despite varied successes throughout history, the leagues did not go forward until Rube Foster took the helm. At that point, the Negro National League grew to have some success. The barnstorming activity of the men (and women) of this league honed the skills of such players as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Satchel Paige. It is from this league that Bill Veeck signed a young Larry Doby to become the first black player in the American League.
Integration Across the League
The breaking of the long-standing “gentlemen’s agreement” took years, especially in the junior circuit. While Doby broke the color barrier in 1947, it would be 12 years before Pumpsie Green made his début for the Red Sox, completing the integration of the MLB. McGregor’s book takes the reader on a trip describing and discussing each team’s decision to hire its first black player.
Recommendation of McGregor’s Book
I enjoyed the book, a lot. Any fan of baseball, or the history of America’s Pastime should find themselves lost in these pages describing the journey from racially based leagues to a major league system where the best players wind up on a roster regardless of the color of their skin. I rate this book 10/10, and highly recommend its purchase.