OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Adrian Burgos Jr.

Portrait of Adrian Burgos Jr.

Adrian Burgos Jr. is a historian who specializes in U.S. Latino history, sport history, urban history, and African American history. His teaching, research, and public engagement focus on the migration and immigration experiences of Caribbean Latinos within the United States as they illuminate processes of racialization, identity formation, urbanization, and labor. In particular he examines how Latinos have become part of U.S. society while simultaneously engaging in transnational practices to retain their cultural identities. His first book, Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (2007), analyzes the incorporation of players from the Spanish-speaking Americas into U.S. professional baseball and highlights the working of baseball’s color line. His second book, Cuban Star: How One Negro League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball (2011), explores what it means to be black and brown in the United States through the life story of Afro-Cuban-American Alejandro “Alex” Pompez, a Negro League team owner and Harlem numbers king who became a major league scout who opened the Dominican talent pipeline. Burgos is also a coeditor, with Frank Guridy and Gina Pérez, of the anthology Beyond El Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America (2010). In 2020 he co-authored with Margaret Salazar-Porzio, ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues, a bilingual book that accompanies the Smithsonian’s exhibit on Latinos and baseball cultures.

Burgos has served as an academic adviser on museum exhibits such as the Smithsonian's Pleibol! and documentaries such as Roberto Clemente (2008) and The Tenth Inning (2010). He was the founding editor-in-chief of La Vida Baseball, a digital platform on Latinos in baseball.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

Latinos became Major League Baseball's (MLB) minority-majority in the 1980s; their story in U.S. professional baseball dates back to the 1860s, however. This lecture examines how the participation of Latino players affected the working of professional baseball's color line, and how these individuals were racialized as non-white Others. In so doing, it explores the racial and labor processes through which Latinos entered US professional baseball that resulted in the majority of Latinos participating in the Negro Leagues during MLB's color line era and their becoming MLB's largest racialized minority in the late 20th century.
Afro-Latinos have become prominent among the stars of professional baseball. Their story follows not just Jackie Robinson's 1947 trailblazing debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but also that of Afro-Cuban Orestes "Minnie" Minoso's 1949 breakthrough. This lecture examines the story of Afro-Latinos, their racial experience as part of the generation of integration pioneers and their emergence as the largest group of Black players in Major League Baseball in the 21st century.