Despite a Racist Past, Dixie Youth League Still Dominates Southern Baseball

By Dan Friedell, Fatherly

In 1955, an all-black Little League team from the Cannon Street YMCA in Charleston, South Carolina entered the state tournament. Little League was an explicitly integrated institution at the time, but the tournament was, in practice, nearly all-white. This was the year that Rosa Parks refused to stand up and, perhaps more pertinently, the year Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella led the Brooklyn Dodgers to a World Series title over the Yankees. Racial politics were front and center, doubly so in South Carolina. All 61 of the all-white teams in the tournament dropped out. The Cannon Street 12-year-olds were declared state champions and excluded from the regional tournaments because they hadn’t won any games in tournament play.

The other teams left Little League entirely to form an explicitly racist and exclusionary league of their own, which they called Little Boys Baseball. The league not only allowed racist whites to avoid having their children play with African-American children, it slowed the entrance of young black players into higher level baseball leagues by essentially disconnecting the pipeline. A generation of black talent suddenly had nowhere to go.

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