Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Day All Hell Broke Loose In Baseball

Today is Jackie Robinson Day. This is one of the most important dates in baseball history; hell, it's one of the most important dates in the history of our country. Let Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus tell you why.

Bill Clinton said that everything that is wrong with America can be fixed by everything that's right with America. Segregation was one of the things most wrong. The courage of Jackie Robinson, the leadership of Pee Wee Reese, the quiet dignity of Roy Campanella, and the moral courage of Pete Reiser were things that were right.

While we celebrate the achievements of Jackie Robinson, let's not let MLB off the hook. This isn't a day for MLB itself to be particularly proud of; it's actually a day of shame that such a day was ever necessary. When we think of Robinson, let's also think for a moment about Cap Anson, who refused to play against Fleet Walker and George Stovey and helped cement the color line. Let's think about Judge Landis, who vigilantly enforced the line while piously telling the public that no such line existed. Let's think about Yankees GM George Weiss, who told a writer that he'd never allow blacks to play for the Yankees "because it would offend boxholders from Westchester to have to sit with niggers." Let's think about Tom Yawkey's Red Sox, who were tipped off to Willie Mays in the late 1940's but decided not to offer him a contract because he wasn't "their type of player" and didn't integrate until 12 years after Robinson broke in. Anson, Landis, Weiss, and Yawkey are all members of baseball's Hall of Fame.

As much as we criticize Bud Selig on this site, I have to say that Selig seems sincere about moving the game far beyond its sordid racist past. Jackie Robinson Day, the Civil Rights Game, the RBI program are excellent ideas that MLB should be credited for.

Racism in America is far from eliminated. A day like this is an inspiration, a day in which we can see that progress can be made against the most seemingly intractable opposition.



  • Well said, Jim. We will celebrate Jackie Robinson's life and accomplishments, but we should also take the time to remember the circumstances that led us to that ugly time. And to solemnly swear, "Never again."

    By Blogger Bob, at 8:15 PM  

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