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A History of Bigotry in Baseball

I’ve been known to obsess about certain topics. Two of them are Baseball and Bigotry. So I decided to research the history of one within the other. Below is basically a time line of the history of bigotry in baseball.

Type your cut conte


1867- The National Association of Baseball Players rejected the application, an all black team, for club status.

Cap Anson-

Anson was well known to be a racist and refused to play in exhibition games versus dark-skinned players.

This attitude was not considered to be unusual in his day, and Anson remained very popular in Chicago while playing for the White Stockings. On August 10, 1883 Anson refused to play an exhibition game against the Toledo Blue Stockings because their catcher, Moses Fleetwood Walker, was African American.[8] When Blue Stockings Manager Charlie Morton told Anson the White Stockings would forfeit the gate receipts if they refused to play, Anson backed down.


On July 14, 1887 the Chicago White Stockings played an exhibition game against the Newark Little Giants. African American George Stovey was listed in the Newark News as the Little Giants' scheduled starting pitcher. Anson objected, and Stovey did not pitch.. Moreover, International League owners had voted 6-to-4 to exclude African-American players from future contracts.


In September 1888 Chicago was at Syracuse for an exhibition game. Anson refused to start the game when he saw Walker’s name on the scorecard as catcher. Again, Anson pressured his opponents to find a Caucasian replacement


1902- The first Latin American Ballplayer, Luis Castro, plays 42 games for the Philadelphia Athletics.

Ty Cobb was a notorious racist- http://wso.williams.edu/~jkossuth/cobb/race.htm

1933- Hank Greenberg starts for the Tigers.

Yet the budding baseball star often faced bigotry in the predominantly Gentile world of baseball. While it was rampant in pre-World War II Germany, anti-Semitism was not uncommon in the United States in the 1930s. Greenberg was often heckled by baseball spectators and by opposing players—some of whom joked that pitchers should try throwing a pork chop at him to strike him out. Throughout these trials, Greenberg maintained his dignity, and became more beloved among his fans for his fortitude and perseverance. http://sports.jrank.org/pages/1763/Greenberg-Hank-First-Jewish-Baseball-Star.html

1947- Jackie Robinson becomes the first Black Major league player. Below are the different reaction of two of Robinson’s Teammates.

Dixie Walker- When the Dodgers broke baseball's color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, Walker became a figure of some controversy. In 1947, during spring training, the club announced that it was bringing up Robinson from the minors. Walker thereupon wrote a letter to Branch Rickey, the club president, asking him to be traded. The letter did not mention Robinson by name, but Walker acknowledged later that he had been under pressure from Alabama people not to play with Robinson. Several other Dodgers from the U.S. South who had also grown up in conditions of strict racial segregation made similar requests of Rickey. Walker denied, nevertheless, that he had been in the forefront of a move to block Robinson. Reportedly, Robinson would look the other way rather than try to shake Walker's hand on the field, to avoid mutual embarrassment. Walker was soon defending Robinson and giving him pointers, and added that he came to respect Robinson for the way he handled the abuse hurled at him, and called him "as outstanding an athlete as I never saw." Walker finished the year at .306 and 94 RBIs.

Whatever his opinion might have been at the time about integration, Walker saluted Robinson the baseball player when the 1947 pennant was won: "He is everything Branch Rickey said he was when he came up from Montreal." And with time, and as baseball welcomed more black and Latin players into its ranks, Walker's position about integration surely evolved as well. He managed integrated teams in the AAA International League in the late 1950s, coached for the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Braves and made clear to reporters that he was not the same Dixie Walker as he was in 1947. His support of Jim Crow during Robinson's rookie season sprang partly from concerns for his home and businesses in his native Alabama – "I didn't know if people would spit on me or not [for playing with a black man]," he once said. Indeed, his final years in baseball in the late 1960s through the 1970s were as the minor league batting instructor for one of the game's most diverseorganizations, the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Pee Wee Reese- Reese was a strong supporter of the first 20th century black Major League Baseball player, Jackie Robinson. He was serving a stint in the Navy when the news of Robinson's signing came. Although he had little or no experience interacting with minorities — according to Reese, his meeting Robinson marked the first time in his life that he had shaken hands with a black man — he had no particular prejudices, either. It is reported that his father had made him starkly aware of racial injustice by showing him a tree where a lynching had occurred.[2] The modest Reese, who typically downplayed his pioneering role in helping to ease the breaking of the 80-year-old color line, said that his primary concern with regard to Robinson's arrival was the possibility of Reese losing his shortstop job. Robinson was assigned to the right side of the infield, and Reese retained his position.

Many Dodgers were anathema to the thought of a Negro playing in the bright white Dodger uniform. The mindset of the majority of the ballplayers at the time was that black people had been put on earth to merely serve others. Reese refused to sign a petition that threatened a boycott if Robinson joined the team. When Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947 and traveled with them during their first road trip, he was heckled by fans in Cincinnati, Ohio. During pre-game infield practice, Reese, the captain of the team, went over to Robinson, engaged him in conversation, and put his arm around his shoulder in a gesture of support which silenced the crowd. This gesture is depicted in a bronze sculpture of Reese and Robinson, created by sculptor William Behrends, that was placed at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn, New York, and unveiled on November 1, 2005.

Throughout that difficult first year in the major leagues, Reese helped keep Robinson's morale up amid all the abuse. As the 1947 season wore on, there was tacit acceptance of the fact that Black men were now playing big league ball and were probably here to stay. Robinson still got pitches thrown at him, but Pee Wee Reese told him, "You know Jack, some of these guys are throwing at you because you’re black. But others are doing it just because they don’t like you." His role in nurturing Jackie Robinson aside, 1947 was a superb year for Reese, as he batted .284 with a league-leading 104 walks. He also had a career best slugging average of .426. Their rapport soon led shortstop Reese and second baseman Robinson to become one of the most effective defensive pairs in the sport's history.

The friendship between Reese and Robinson is the subject of a popular 1990 children's book called Teammates, written by Peter Golenbock and with illustrations by Paul Bacon.


At Reese's funeral, Joe Black, another Major League Baseball black pioneer, said:

"Pee Wee helped make my boyhood dream come true to play in the Majors, the World Series. When Pee Wee reached out to Jackie, all of us in the Negro League smiled and said it was the first time that a White guy had accepted us. When I finally got up to Brooklyn, I went to Pee Wee and said, 'Black people love you. When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us.' With Pee Wee, it was No. 1 on his uniform and No. 1 in our hearts."



1955- Sandy Koufax signs with the Dodgers.

"Some of the players did not like him because he was a Jew," Newcombe says. "I couldn't understand the narrow-mindedness of these players when they would come to us and talk about Sandy as 'this kike' and 'this Jew bastard' or 'Jew sonofabitch that's gonna take my job.' Players used to complain he threw the ball too hard. But the way they used to complain—'The wild Jew sonofabitch, I'm not gonna hit against that...'—and they'd use the f word—'...that kike, as wild as he is.' And these were star Dodgers players, some of them. You think of crackers as being from the South, but a lot of those crackers, they were from California and other places."

Such prejudice wasn't confined to the Dodgers. It was the mindset of the era. " Sandy Koufax, being a little Jewish boy, didn't know anything about baseball," Hank Aaron says, describing the prevailing attitude. "Everybody thought, Hey, he needs to be somewhere off in school, counting money or doing whatever they do." http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1026710/index.htm

1955- Elston Howard becomes the first and only African American Yankee during the George Weiss era as General Manager. http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/yankeeswebpage/elston.html

1959- The Red Sox become the last team to integrate.

1960's - Large influx of Latin Americans, highlighted by Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant and Tony Oliva. http://www.latinobaseball.com/mlb-hcountry.html

1974- Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s record- receives hate mail and death threats.

1975- Frank Robinson becomes the first African American manager.

1976- Glenn Burke the first openly Gay Ballplayer makes his major league debut.

Burke's association with the Dodgers was a difficult one. According to his autobiography Out at Home, the Los Angeles Dodgers offered to pay for a lavish honeymoon if Burke agreed to get married. Burke refused to participate in the sham. He also angered Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda by befriending the manager's estranged gay son, Tommy Lasorda, Jr. The Dodgers eventually dealt Burke to the Oakland A's.

Faced with mounting difficulties, Burke eventually quit baseball. He stated in his autobiography that "prejudice just won out." He returned for spring training with Oakland in 1980. Billy Martin, the newly hired manager of the Athletics made public statements about not wanting a gay man in his clubhouse.


1978 - A Federal court judge opened the locker rooms of all male athletes thereby making them a heterosexual environment. An additional civil ruling in 1985 reaffirmed the previous 1978 decree. http://www.sensations4women.com/femReporters/index.html


1987- Dodger Exec Al Campanis says on Nightline, that African American people "may not have some of the necessities" to be managers or executives of major league teams.

Marge Schott On November 13, 1992, Charles "Cal" Levy, a former marketing director for the Reds, stated in a deposition for Tim Sabo, a former employee who was suing the team that he'd heard Schott refer to then-Reds outfielders Eric Davis and Dave Parker as "million-dollar niggers." [2] Sabo, whose position was "team controller," alleged that his 1991 firing was due to testifying against her in another lawsuit brought against Schott by several limited partners and because he opposed the unwritten policy of not hiring blacks. Schott's countersuit alleged that Sabo wrote unauthorized checks to himself and paid health insurance premiums to retired front-office employees. She also asked for $25,000 in damages for defamation. Tim Sabo ultimately lost his suit.

Levy, a Jew, also alleged that Schott kept an old Nazi swastika armband at her home and claims he overheard her say "sneaky goddamn Jews are all alike."[3] The next day, Schott issued a statement saying the claims of racism levied against her were overstated and that she didn't mean to offend anyone with her statement or her ownership of the armband. On November 29, Schott said the "million dollar niggers" comment was made in jest, but then stated that she felt that Adolf Hitler was initially good for Germany and didn't understand how the epithet "Jap" could be offensive.

During the same season, a former Oakland Athletics executive assistant, Sharon Jones, is quoted in the New York Times as having overheard Schott state: "I would never hire another nigger. I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger," before the start of an owners' conference call.

May 18, 1994, Schott commented that she didn't want her players to wear earrings because "only fruits wear earrings."



1999- Sports Illustrated interviews John Rocker, who reveals his racist and anti gay attitudes.

2006- Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth.

Bonds himself thinks fans have it in for him for racial reasons "because Babe Ruth is one of the greatest baseball players ever and Babe Ruth ain't black. I'm black. Blacks, we go through a little more, and that's the truth." Others agree. Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins insisted in a USA Today interview, "It's so obvious what's going on. … It's killing me because you know it's about race." Danny Glover similarly mused on ESPN's Bonds on Bonds program: "I'm surprised the black community hasn't come out and made a statement about this." And Louisiana State University Professor Leonard Moore insists things are actually worse than when Hank Aaron was at bat: "White America doesn't want him to [pass] Babe Ruth and is doing everything they can to stop him. … I think what he'll go through will be 100 times worse than what Aaron went through." http://www.slate.com/id/2143014/

nts here.


http://www.stwing.upenn.edu/\\u126 ~jahavsy1/reporters.html




( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
This is fascinating. I had no idea. It is also disappointing and tragic to see how deeply racism has etched this country. I had no idea that Sandy Koufax was Jewish or that there was prejudice against him because of it.

I do remember the 1987 comment. It is sickening to read it all, and yet, now we read it from a place where a Black man is president. It helps ease the pain.

On Barry Bonds, I didn't think of it so much as racism as that he was a man who wanted to have a private life and people resented it. They wanted to own him and I thought he rightly stood for a place of privacy and perhaps he would have been less punished for that inner security and serenity if he were not black.

I do see that he himself thought the fans were racist. Perhaps I want to believe better of them than that. :)

I am most likely the one mistaken in this.

Edited at 2008-11-15 05:05 pm (UTC)
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
Koufax being Jewish and from Brooklyn was my hero.

There's a famous story about Koufax sitting out game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it was Yom Kipper. Drysdale was hit hard. When Alston came to take him out his response was, "Don't you wish that I was Jewish?"

Many people have claimed to have seen Koufax in Temple that day. Koufax has stated that it was an illusion. He watched the game from a Minneapolis hotel room.
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Wow, I was totally unaware but I have never been much of a baseball fan. I sort of know the "big names," so I've heard of Sandy Koufax. :)

The religious observance reminds me of the man celebrated in Chariots of Fire.

One would have to be dead to live in SF and not hear a great deal of talk on Barry Bonds. Perhaps that is why I feel he would like some privacy and that should be honored, and I guess the "big bucks" have a price, and harassment in these times is part of the fame.
Nov. 17th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)

hasn't been updated in a while, but an interesting read.

You forgot to mention Pumpsie Green. The first African-American to play for the Red Sox, the last team to integrate. Could have had Jackie, could have had Willie, but Tom Yawkey was a racist...
Nov. 17th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
I've been told that there is a good book about that.

The Red Sox were known as the most racist team. However, The Yankees and Mets, both under George Weiss follow closely behind.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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