Professor to present first Selig Distinguished Lecture in Sport and Society

Jan. 21, 2011

Adrian Burgos, professor of history in the Department of African American, Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Latino/a Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present the first Selig Distinguished Lecture in Sport and Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Thursday, Jan. 27.

The lecture will be given at 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St.

Burgos has written extensively on the cultural implications of baseball and sports in America. His lecture, "'Pomp' and His Circumstances: How One Negro League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball," will focus on Alejandro Pompez and his impact on the assimilation and acceptance of non-whites in sports.

Pompez, one of the most influential and visionary executives and scouts in baseball, was born in Florida to Cuban immigrant parents. He discovered a love of baseball as a young man but also spent time running numbers and working for New York mobster Dutch Schultz. With his passion for the sport, eye for talent, ability to make deals and a fluency in English and Spanish, Pompez became the link between white baseball, Negro baseball and Latin players from the Caribbean nations.

In the 25 years Pompez spent with the New York Giants organization, he signed such all-star players as the Alou brothers — Felipe, Matty and Jesus — Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Tony Oliva, Juan Marichal and Manny Mota to contracts. The life and work of Pompez are critical to understanding the changing racial perceptions of American society in the first half of the 20th century.

Burgos received his undergraduate degree from Vassar College and his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Prior to the University of Illinois, he taught at Michigan State University and James Madison College. He is the author of "Playing America's Game(s): Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line" and co-author of "Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African American Baseball." He is co-editor of "Beyond el Barrio: The Politics of Everyday Life in Latina/o America."

As a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Screening and Voting Committees, Burgos participated in the special election of Negro League and Pre-Negro League candidates. He also consulted on the development of a permanent exhibit on the history of Latinos in baseball at the Hall of Fame.

Allan H. "Bud" Selig is a 1956 graduate of the UW-Madison with degrees in history and political science. He is the ninth commissioner of Major League Baseball and former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. Selig became acting baseball commissioner in 1992 and officially assumed the post in 1998.

In 2010, Selig established the Allan H. Selig Chair in History at the UW-Madison. The distinguished Selig chair will support a new faculty position focusing on teaching and research related to the development of professional sport in its larger national and social contexts, including race, gender, labor relations, "mass culture," economic organization and how sports both influence and reflect broad social change.

The Selig Chair and the Distinguished Lecture Series will allow the UW-Madison to play a pioneering role in the emerging field of scholarly American sports history.