Valentine had taken a few of his players to the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City and that got him to talking, hours later, about the global impact of the league. And while he was doing so, he pointed out a misstep in the way Major League Baseball chose to integrate, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
“What should have been done,” Valentine said, “two, if not four, of those franchises should have been incorporated. Our game would be so much stronger, if in fact, we incorporated those teams, instead of stealing players.”
Interesting. Take the approach the NBA did with the ABA, the NFL with the AFL.
Why would the game be stronger if that had happened?
“We would have black fans,” Valentine said. “We still don’t have black fans today.”
More black fans would equate to more black athletes choosing to play baseball and a larger pool of players from which to choose, by definition, means a better quality of play.
“Those stadiums were sold out across the country for 15, 20 years with people who paid to watch baseball,” Valentine said of Negro League games. “Baptist churches, if I remember correctly, in about 10 of the towns would change the times of their services to accommodate the baseball games. That never happens.”