"For the first time, they were seeing blacks beating whites," said newspaper writer Al Gilkes, the only journalist from the Caribbean to go to South Africa.
"Here was a country in which no black man had ever seen a black person in competition with a white person, and beating them. To me, that was where the real victory was."
'Destroyed as cricketers'
But critics of the tour disagree. They say the presence of a team of black men in South Africa did not help end apartheid, but instead strengthened and supported it.
Even within the country itself, non-whites protested the West Indies rebels.
Back home in the Caribbean, the reaction was worse. A deep sense of betrayal cut through the Caribbean. Cricketers who were once viewed as heroes were now seen as sellouts.
When the month-long tour was over, the rebel players knew they would have to face the repercussions of their decision back home.
"I felt sorry for them," said Gilkes, "because I knew that they would never outlive what they were returning to."
The fate of their cricketing careers rested with the West Indies Cricket Board of Control.
The players were aware they might face a ban -- after all, England's rebel team had been banned for three years; Sri Lanka's was banned for 25 years.
But they did not expect to be banned for life.
"Many of them were destroyed as cricketers," said University of West Indies Professor Hilary Beckles. "Their cricket careers came to an end."
Murray, once a star, is now drifting, unable to hold a job in Barbados. In the years after the tour, he eventually lost more than just his career.
His wife gave birth to their baby daughter in Australia, while Murray was playing in South Africa.
They faced being deported from Australia for his role in the rebel tours, and were unwelcome back in the Caribbean, too. They had a newborn, and nowhere to go.
"They didn't want me to return," Murray said. "Politics got into it."
When asked if his current situation resulted from his decision to go, Murray answered: "Most likely."
For Stephenson, the once-rising star, his cricketing past is behind him. He is now a golf instructor at a country club in Barbados.
But he still finds a way to connect to the sport he loved at the cricket and golf academy he started near his home.