Friday, April 15, 2016

Philadelphia Issues Apology To Jackie Robinson, 69 Years Later

Great read from the NYT today on Jackie Robinson, and how Philadelphia is trying to atone for bad behavior 69 years ago:

Although the resolution refers to the racism Robinson encountered as a visiting player in Philadelphia, it is generally accepted that the worst behavior the Phillies displayed toward him actually occurred earlier that season, in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, during one of the Dodgers’ early homestands.

It was then that the Phillies, led by their manager, Ben Chapman, repeatedly shouted racial slurs at Robinson when he stepped to the plate, an encounter that was vividly portrayed in “42.”

The City Council resolution states that Robinson was told to “go back to the cotton fields.” According to Jonathan Eig, whose 2008 book “Opening Day” chronicled Robinson’s rookie season, Chapman and several Phillies also made comments about Robinson’s physical features.

Robinson later said that it was the closest he came to cracking and retaliating.

“For one wild and rage-crazed minute, I thought, ‘To hell with Mr. Rickey’s noble experiment,’ ” Robinson once recalled, referring to Branch Rickey, the Dodgers executive who chose Robinson as the player he felt capable of integrating the game while having the discipline to not retaliate to the taunts and harassment he would face.

In those initial games against the Phillies, Robinson held in his anger.

“He knew this wasn’t just symbolism,” Eig said. “He knew if he could integrate Major League Baseball, it would affect lots of people’s lives. And he knew if he lashed out, he might lose the opportunity.”

For his part, Chapman would insist years later that the taunting was motivated less by racism than by a desire to gain a competitive advantage over a presumably fragile rookie. [...]

In any case, the initial taunting of Robinson by Chapman and his players created a backlash. In the second game of that series, according to “Opening Day,” the Dodgers’ Eddie Stanky, a scrappy infielder and Philadelphia native, confronted the Phillies, shouting at them and calling them cowards for verbally abusing someone who could not fight back.

Commentators weighed in, expressing sympathy for Robinson. “It was the first time a lot of white people and white reporters in particular noticed the abuse Robinson was taking,” Eig said, adding, “I interviewed a fan who had been a teenager who went to one of those games, heard the heckling, and was shocked.”


QuadSevens said...

Chapman's excuse of trying to "gain a competitive advantage" sounds like crap to me.

Steve Sax said...

Totally agree. I mean, a sick person. could bring a opposing player's dog to the stadium and kill it on the field, for "competitive advantage". Under that logic.