The man known as “The Hebrew Menace” was not in fact Jewish, but a number of prominent black athletes were—these and other unexpected facts and figures are uncovered in the pages of Out of Left Field.
Nat Strong “The Hebrew Menace” was actually of Welsh-Irish descent and a member in good standing of the New York Athletic Club, which barred Jews until the 1950s.
Howard Zebulon Plummer was both black and Jewish, as were most of the players on the roster of his team, The Belleville Grays.
During the Depression, white owners divested themselves of their holdings in black baseball, opening the field for black and Jewish ownership to emerge.
Best known as owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, Abe Sapperstein earned most of his wealth from his work as an owner and booking agent for the Negro Leagues. He was also Satchel Paige’s personal manager.
In the 19th century, several Major League teams had Jewish ownership. With the rise of anti-Semitism in the depression, only one Jewish owner remained, William Benswanger of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Clowning” or Comedy Baseball remains as controversial as the minstrel tradition from which it derives, but in its time it was an enormously popular entertainment form, pioneered by Syd Pollock. He was both respected and reviled for his work.
Integration: a Communist Plot—Perhaps the most persistent voices in the fight to integrate baseball belonged to three Jewish sportswriters for the Communist Party newspaper, the Daily Worker.