Tygiel would routinely use his baseball creations to discuss broader and more important aspects of culture and society in the United States, the Times said.
"Jules... was able to pull off the double play of combining his two loves -- history and baseball -- to become the foremost baseball historian in the United States today," San Francisco State Provost John Gemello said.
Among those topics were equal rights for blacks and baseball star Jackie Robinson's role in the historical struggle, which Tygiel detailed in "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy."
"Baseball was one of the first institutions in modern society to accept blacks on a relatively equal basis," Tygiel said. "The 'noble experiment' thus reflects more than a saga of sport. It offers an opportunity to analyze the integration process in American life."
The Times said Tygiel, who died Tuesday, is survived by his wife, Luise Custer, two sons, his mother, a sister and a brother.