When Jackie Robinson made history, sports sites shrugged

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Jackie Robinson’s debut at Ebbets Field on the opening day of the 1947 baseball season was nothing short of an American lifetime, breaking the color barrier in our national pastime 15 months ago when President Harry Truman ordered the US military to integrate.

Robinson was later described by Ken Burns as “the most important person in the history of American sports and…one of the greatest Americans who ever lived,” but you would never know that from reading the city papers. . New York that morning 70 years ago. .

Sometimes the press isn’t the first draft of the story, and while everyone knows history will be made on Tuesday, April 15, the cozy Bedford Avenue baseball stadium in the back is considered Flatbush (now Crown Heights), the report is what historians call “submitted.”

Sportswriters focused their attention ahead of Opening Day on the sudden suspension of the Dodgers’ violent season-long Leo “The Lip” Durocher by baseball commissioner Albert “Happy” Chandler. Along with his close friend, Hollywood star George Raft, Durocher was known to be associated with gamers. In 1946, the Brooklyn District Attorney tapped his phone. In early 1947, Durocher – who clearly enjoyed the limelight – eloped with actress Laraine Day to Mexico, where the MGM contract star had called off his current marriage. In response, the Catholic Youth Organization of Brooklyn announced that it would boycott team games. Meanwhile, Durocher told his players that “I am the manager of this team, and I say [Robinson] drama. Plus, I say he can make us all rich. And if one of you can’t use the money, I’ll make sure you all trade.

But just five days before the start of the season, Chandler suspended Durocher. Anyway, the celebrity manager really likes the cover of Hourly when the season starts.

On opening day, Brooklyn Eagles, then a high-volume newspaper with two daily editions, made front-page headlines for Joe Hatten, who started pitching the Dodgers against the Boston Braves. A caption reads “Robinson, Jorgensen on the team” – thus equating the modern majors’ first black player with a memorable white rookie simply because his nickname is “”Spider”.

The next days eagle found only in the sports section, though it includes a photo of Robinson shaking hands with Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore and another photo of the first suicide bomber in the tunnel with three of his colleagues. One of the newspaper’s sportswriters noted that while “Robinson got a good deal” from the crowd, Dodgers star Dixie Walker received “a standing ovation”.

Such a reaction contrasts with what happened days earlier, when the Alabama-born Walker received boos during a showdown game at Ebbets Field against the Yankees. Walker was one of the few Dodgers players opposed to adding Robinson to their roster. Note that the taunts come from Robinson’s fans, Eashine The editorial board denounced Walker’s “mistreatment”, warning that it could lead to “extending the Dodgers’ experience by bringing a black person into the national game.”

Meanwhile, fans’ passion for Robinson has been making headlines Amsterdam News, the city’s main black newspaper. The Harlem-based weekly also covers Brooklyn’s rapidly growing African-American community in detail.

“Interference by sympathizers hurts Jackie,” claims the main story of Am News the week Robinson made his debut. The passage cited the concern of Branch Rickey, president of the Dodgers and one of Robinson’s main supporters, about the “5,000 invitations to all kinds of events” that Jackie had received. “Jackie’s greatest danger is society,” warns Rickey.

Am News columnist Dan Burley, a friend of Langston Hughes who has chronicled the struggle to break into baseball, may unexpectedly agree with eagleDenunciation of fans booing Walker. In Burley’s opinion, when the team’s schedule has taken the Dodgers into racially hostile environments like Cincinnati and St. Louis, Robinson will need the support of “Dixie Walker and everyone else.”

Burley also suggested that Durocher’s suspension could have been orchestrated by other baseball executives opposed to the integration. MacPhail, Burley said, helped make Happy Chandler a commissioner. Meanwhile, MacPhail showed “a tendency to laugh at the thought of a black player wearing a Yankee uniform.” According to Burley, the fact that Durocher was once one of Robinson’s strongest supporters may have contributed to Chandler’s decision to kick him out.

While the Dodgers were thus led in Robinson’s first season by a lowly character named Burt Shotton, a teetotaler-wearing teetotaler, Jackie’s play was dazzling throughout his first campaign. earned him Rookie of the Year. The team won the National League pennant under interim captain Burt Shotton, only to lose the World Series in seven games to Joe DiMaggio and the cursed Yankees. By 1949, Robinson was an undisputed star and the subject of a hit song.

Robinson’s five successful rookies clouded his own memories of his first day. When I remember it 25 years later in I have never done it, “There was an overflowing crowd at Ebbets Field.” In fact, attendance was surprisingly low, with more than 7,000 seats unfilled in the small stadium (33,000 seats).

the eagle At the time, it was speculated that many fans may have stayed away due to the smallpox outbreak. That week, Mayor Bill O’Dwyer, a former NYPD officer (and the last ex-cop to serve as mayor before Eric Adams) announced a plan to vaccinate the city’s nearly 8 million residents. a year here. next three weeks. At the Polo Grounds in Harlem on the first weekend of the baseball season, 90,000 fans showed up to watch Robinson play two games against the New York Giants. It is unclear if these are more widespread super events.

Although the year began more calmly than expected, Robinson’s performance on the field made him an undisputed star at the end of the 1947 season. The following season, Rickey let Durocher terminate his contract. co and manager of the New York Giants, where he finished the World Series in 1954 with Willie Mays at center. However, Mayor O’Dwyer fell from glory. Shortly after his re-election in 1949, a major gambling scandal erupted, directly affecting the NYPD. In the late 1950s, Harry Truman rescued O’Dwyer by appointing him United States Ambassador to Mexico. To cover up the scandal, Brooklyn Eagles won the Pulitzer Prize.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-jackie-robinson-made-history-the-sports-pages-shrugged?source=articles&via=rss When Jackie Robinson made history, sports sites shrugged

This article is automatically translated from the original language to your language. Do not hesitate to let us know if it contains translation errors so that we can correct them as soon as possible.

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When Jackie Robinson made history, sports sites shrugged