Having just watched all 23 hours of Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns (and getting all teary-eyed several times), I'm in a historic frame of mind.
Playing for the Montreal team in the Dodgers' organization, a very young George Shuba — he was 21 at the time — was waiting to bat and did what came naturally when his teammate, Jackie Robinson, crossed home plate after hitting his first home run.
"He called me later and thanked me," Shuba said. "And I said, what for?"
The moment is described as the first interracial handshake in professional baseball.
Robinson had been afraid, Shuba said, that none of his teammates would shake his hand after he'd broken baseball's color barrier. For Shuba, it was only natural — he saw no difference between himself and Robinson, having played with African American athletes at Chaney High School, where he graduated in 1942.
"I said, 'Are you on our team? Are you on our side? OK then.' "
Robinson went on to make history. Shuba went on to hit a home run in the 1953 World Series — the first Series home run by a pitch hitter in history, he says.
And let's not fail to recognize one of the coolest baseball nicknames ever. Here's to George "Shotgun" Shuba.