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tv   Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers  CSPAN  August 22, 2022 2:02pm-3:23pm EDT

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>> hello, everyone. thank you so much for joining us. i'm marcia eli from the brooklyn public library center for brooklyn history and the arts and culture team. this year, brooklyn public library celebrates its 125th anniversary.
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our birthday is a chance to talk about all that the library does, and one important part of that work is due wording the extraordinary special collections of the brooklyn center for history. these archives are the combined materials for the brooklyn public library's special collections at those of the former brooklyn historical society, and they are literally the most comprehensive collection of brooklyn related materials in the world. so, we are celebrating these amazing collections in a 125th anniversary series titled out of the box. five programs that put just a few of the most important or most frequently used or beloved materials center stage. clearly, the dodgers and jackie robinson have to be part of that lineup. so, tonight, we are bringing together a really fantastic
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panel of experts to dip into just some of what the center for brooklyn history has. especially as it relates to the groundbreaking player, jackie robinson. we're going to kick off with an overview of our dodgers holdings, presented by sea b h archivist sarah quick. before turning it over to sarah, i want to share two important notes for all of you. first, you do have the option for closed captioning tonight. just click that live transcript button at the bottom of your screen. very importantly, i hope you will share your questions for our incredible panel tonight. to do that, type them into the q&a box, which is also at the bottom of your screen. now, it is my great pleasure to turn this over to sara quick. >> all right, thanks marcia. my name is sarah and i'm an archivist at the center for
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brooklyn history and i'm going to talk for just a few minutes that the dodgers items that we have in our archival collections at cbp h. we have about 11 collections, so this is just going to be a general overview with a few examples to give you an idea of what is in our collections. and if they could be helpful to your research or your general interests. i should also mention that we have a large collection of books which i'm not going to talk about tonight but they can be accessed through our catalog. next slide, please. so, several of our collections include programs and scorecards from various parks. a lot of them had handwritten notes and tallies from the original owners. i've also come across a few that have little sketches and them. another thing i want to notice that these have advertisements for local businesses so the research value can extend to baseball. next slide, please. the walter o'malley brooklyn dodgers records include a large amount of correspondence regarding what you might
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expect. the example on the left is a note from o'malley to robert moses mentioning the opportunities in los angeles. the example on the right as mayor robert wagner basically echoing the thoughts and feelings of a lot of brooklyn-ites, asking a melina to take the dodgers out of brooklyn. next slide. another interesting series in the american election is maps a proposed sites for the new stadium in brooklyn, which of course never came to be. including one fairly close to cbh. this goes beyond the baseball history and has potential in politics, you name it. course we have baseball cards covering every decade and a wide variety of players. for tonight, i didn't scan the backs of the cards, but we can typically expect player stats
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or an advertisement for the company that produced the cards. next slide, please. we also have recorded music and printed sheet music but we also have some original chants that were composed by fans or fan clubs. these are really fun, they can be kind of sassy. some are better than others but the one i've included here is a really good example and really interesting, because you can sort of see the editing process. next slide, please. that's a really good segue into my favorite items from these collections, which are items made by fans. so, we have scrapbooks, fan club newsletters, stories, things like that. these are really just one-of-a-kind items that demonstrate loyalty, creativity and a sense of community that people really got, or still get, from being a dodgers fan. their first hand accounts of a chance for feeling and thinking and what they wanted to share. i think they're just great.
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next slide, please. so, my last example is our collection of tickets and signed baseballs. we have a large amounts of tickets, especially from the 40s and 50s, and the baseballs which date to about the same time. i would say that these are items that don't get a lot of requests but they are there and they are available. so, please keep in mind. next slide, please. that's going to wrap up my portion of the program. i just wanted to remind everybody that the center for brooklyn history is a public library, we're not just for the serious researcher. this is your library. please use it. marsha, i'll send it back to you. >> thanks, sarah! that was great. now, i'm very excited to introduce three incredibly accomplished sports experts to talk about the dodgers and jackie robinson. let me tell you a little bit about each of them and welcomed them to join. let's start with joseph
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dorinson, joe is a retired professor in history department at long island university. where he began to teach in 1966. joe co-edited the prize winning book, jackie robinson, rates, sports and the american dream. his latest book, the black athlete as hero, american barrier breakers in nine sports, will be published this summer by mcfarland. welcome, joe. peter golenbock is one of the nation's best known sports authors. bombs, his book on the brooklyn dodgers, is considered a classic. he has written ten new york bestsellers and has two books out right now. valentines way, with bobby valentine, and whispers of the gods, tales from baseball's golden age told by the man who played it. out just last month. welcome, peter. >> thank you so much, my pleasure.
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>> and our moderator tonight is william c. rhoden. bill is a columnist and editor at large for the undefeated, espn's new site about sports -- and culture. for almost three decades he was known as the award-winning sports columnist for the new york times and a regular guest on espn sports reporters. he is the author of several books, including 40 million dollar slaves, the rise, fall and redemption of the black athlete. and a third and a mile, the triumph of the black quarterback. bill has won a pea body award as writer of the hbo documentary, journey of the african american athlete. he also wrote the award winning documentary breaking the huddle, the integration of college football. finally, i really want to mention that, in collaboration with the undefeated, espn and the wall disney company, phil establish the rhoden fellowship. i want it six year, the rodent fellowship trains and aspires
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aspiring african american journalist from historically black universities and colleges. i want to thank you all for being here, i'm really looking forward to your conversation. bill, i turn this over to you. >> thank you so much, marcia. this is really very special. these are two writers and two folks i have had so much respect for, peter and joe. our path seven terse acted and i really respect what you guys have done and represented four years. every time i hear about the books that you have written, i say god, one of i've been doing with my life? but really, it is a pleasure and an honor to be on this panel. particularly, this was april. that always means a lot of stuff, it means baseball is in the air. it also means jack here of insulin.
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what we're going to do, this excise that we're going to look at and we're going to riff on. both of you have written extensively about the dodgers and about robinson and the team. i want you to put the dodgers and robinson in a context. but one question i want to ask you, before we go to the slides, it's a question for each of you. why is robinson continuing to be so enduring? remember, we're talking about 75 years after he broke into baseball and 50 years after his death. he's still vibrant, he's still fresh, he's still part of the american psyche. i guess i want, from each of you, maybe start with you, joe, and then you, peter. why is this? particularly in our field, athletics, where you're only as good as your stats. as soon as you retire, athletes find this out the hard way,
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moments after he retired he was yesterday's news. here we have somebody who has been dead for five decades and who broke into baseball 75 years ago. why did jackie robinson, joe, continue to resonate? >> bill, i am having problems -- i hope, can you see me now? can you hear me now? okay, thank you. i was ready to press the panic button. jackie robinson is a man for all seasons. i want to thank you and peter for being the giants on which i stand to make my pitch for jackie robinson. i'd like to point out that my introduction to the new book was largely derived from bill rhoden's work and peter golenbock's work. i'm honored to be in their
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company, they are two giants. the giant in dodger uniform is jackie robinson. he is, unquestionably, the most transformative athlete of the 20th century. he was a four letter man, uniquely, at ucla. ironically, baseball was probably his weakest sport. football being his best. nevertheless, because of the barriers, racial barriers deeply impeded in american culture, jackie was unable to join major league baseball until he was a very old rookie at 27. playing for montreal and the dodgers one year later. jackie presented a image of
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moderation for the first two years. but, in 1949, branch rickey removed the rains. and jackie had a season to remember, unmatched by many other ballplayers in the hall of fame. he hit 3:42, he knocked in over 120 runs, stole 37 bases. he led the dodgers to the pennant and, unfortunately, god prove to be a yankee fan. and the dodgers lost, despite having a much better lineup except for pitching. robinson was able, finally, to be his own person. doing that, he set the stage for integration of hotels restaurants, businesses. he was able, as we mentioned
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earlier, before the telecast, he moved from supporting nixon in 62 supporting humphrey in 68. so, he's a man who changes with the times. but he remains a permanent fixture in the american pantheon. same question, that was great, joe, you put him in context perfectly. my question remains. in terms of longevity, we have both seen many guys who were great in the moment. and we can barely remember them. jackie robinson speaks with insurance. and i want to get an answer from you, why does he continue to be so injury and? >> there are a handful of athletes in american history, babe ruth certainly is one, jackie robinson, muhammad ali
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is one. very few of that pantheon of importance. greatness. what they mean to the american public. roof came out of the 1919 black sox scandal, and started hitting home runs for the yankees and in effect, saved baseball. jackie robinson in 1947, in a country where african americans were supposed to never be seen, never be heard, never have an important job, never be influential, he joined the brooklyn dodgers and he became the rookie of the year. despite the catcalls, the pitchers who threw at him, players who tried to enjoy him
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by spiking him. despite all that, jackie robinson became a star baseball player. a few years later, he became the most valuable player. but more than that, he told the black community, if i can be a success, you can be one too. don't forget. brown versus board of education. that famous supreme court ruling that did away with separate people, that was in 1954. robinson came along in 1947. i do believe, something i said in my book, robinson allowed martin luther king the success that he had. , i've jackie robinson had been a failure, who knew how many years i would have taken to build what jackie robinson himself had done to the society
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in america. after jackie came players like roy campanella, don knew, come and it kept going on and on to the point where no one could say, african americans don't have wood it takes. because these players showed them, we had just as much as any of the white players. robinson was the first, and he will always be the first, and as far as i am concerned, he is probably i would say, certainly, the most important american athlete in our history. and you don't forget a guy like that. we still talk about babe ruth to this day. we talk about jackie robinson to this day. we talk about muhammad ali to this day and there is a fourth one and that is billie jean king. impossible for title ix, who allowed women to have the same rights as men in sports.
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>> that was so well said. you said something i want to go back to. i will stay on script. i am immediately going to improvise, i don't want to do that, please remind me, you said something about how his success opened doors. when we and our discussion i want to ask you both about why that has not translated into other aspects of baseball as it relates to manager. but i will ask you the question when we get into it. but keep that in mind. >> yes. >> right now, why don't we go to the videotape, we have great slides and we can show the first article from the brooklyn. able -- entitled fair play as rickie's plea and that is when robinson
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was going to a report from florida. you will read this letter and then we will chop it up. let's put the letter in context. about why it is significant. >> what's so interesting about this piece of journalism, is that it takes you back to 1947 and takes you back to that world. when you listen to the language of it, it begins, over at stanford, 40 miles away, jackie robinson's face to face with his baseball destiny. the first boy of his race in 50 years to enter professional baseball. it has been a white man's game ever since. the young california negro will have his first -- with the montreal farm hands when he reports either today or tomorrow. the last warning lecture to his
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sanford kindergarten class yesterday was a plea for fair play for robinson and pitcher john, right -- with none of his own race around. we didn't sign these two boys under any political pressure. we did sign them because it's our desire to have a winning team in brooklyn. i would've signed an elephant to play shortstop if the elephant could have done better than anybody else. you have carried yourself like gentlemen here, and i want you to continue to be gentlemen. all i ask of you is that you be ourselves. i would further remind you that clay hopper, robinson's manager in montreal is himself a mississippian. and i will interrupt myself for a second. because understand that when robinson was coming to the dodgers, klay hopper who once indeed a mississippian, came to
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ranch ricky and he said to them, is this man and human being? hopper had no interest in managing jackie robinson, and ranch ricky said to hopper, you better do exactly as i want you to do or you will be gone. and hopper's career was more important than his racism, and he kept his mouth shut, and it a decent job. >> can i comment something that really rubbed me the wrong way? as enlightened as rickie was in this statement, he refers to them as colored boys, which is degrading and it's part of the systemic racism that pervaded america, and even infected ricky's rhetoric. colored boys, he's a man, and he proved that on the field and
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off the field. >> that's why i wanted to read this article, to show just that. that white america did not look kindly upon african american men. not at all. >> as you pick up where you left just, whenever i read stuff like this and particularly when i'm talking to younger people, younger african americans and you read this type of thing, and you let them know, this was par for the course. for african american men and women in this country. what you had to put off. both being called a girl, a boy, no matter what you are station was, and i think it's hard for younger people to understand that this was just the norm, and how people saw you. and to put jackie robinson in a sort of context, to quote unquote prove your humanity through a simple game a fastball.
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but why don't you pick up where you are reading? >> went on, doubt has been expressed that robinson will be able to play aaa ball. but he drew $400 a month from the kansas city -- that was top pay for a player in the negro national league. all of the players in the negro national league are not big leaguer's, but there are enough to say that jackie moved and pretty fast company. now, of course, none of this is true either. many of the players who played in the leagues were major league quality ball players, without a doubt. josh gibson, satchel page, judy johnson, i can name you ten more. if they had been allowed to play, they would have made fabulous majorly ballplayers. in fact, in 1939, the -- let's see, i'm trying to think of his name, he was on the
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browns all those years. help me out. >> satchel page? >> no, the owner of the browns! >> oh, the browns. >> bill back. in 1939, bill back wanted to buy the philadelphia fillies and take the 15 best negro league players and put them on the phillies. unfortunately, a couple of the executives in major league baseball found out when he tried to do and sold that team out from under him. but there were plenty of people who knew that african american players in the negro leagues were just as good as the white players. back certainly was one of them. let me continue. the colored collegiate was a captain in uncle sam's army, but the rule that applies to discharge servicemen that they can't be sent to a lower classification and that waivers
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must be asked wouldn't affect robinson. the gi bill of rights operates only in cases where the player left organized ball to enter the service. the dodgers won't lose him, even if he doesn't make good in montreal. although the montreal club has made provisions for the housing of robinson and right around the international league circuit in baltimore, the club for the south, doesn't look for any trouble. of course, it can't guarantee protection from the have them in the bleachers. the majority of the hotels, the colored boys won't even have to be segregated. which of course, is nonsense, there wasn't a hotel in america that allowed african americans to stay there. it's felt that the white players will accept them. white ball players have played against color tips for years in exhibition games after the close of the regular league season. a great deal depends on the boys themselves and their department on and off the field. robinson will be watch more closely, he's really on the
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spot. the future of the negro it baseball is all bound up in jackie's own destiny and, in fact, that last sentence is the one true sentence on this piece of paper. >> right, right. joe, what did you think when you're listening to this? i think, this was march 1st, 1946, i think in 46 you are ten years old. >> that's right. >> no, joe was. >> joe, you are ten years old. >> i wasn't born yet. >> peter, you'd be born in about -- >> i was in utero. >> you are on the way. >> i was on the way. >> your thoughts? >> truth be told, bill and peter, i came from a left-wing family and i'm not going to apologize for that. my family was socially conscious, they were in light and about race.
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i went to a camp, camp kinder land, where i in fact salt paul robeson, w. e. b. du bois ways. so, i was ready for the advent of a great negro player. in my book and other articles, i pointed out, when joe dimaggio was asked back in 1939 who is the best pitcher he ever faced you, without batting an eyelash he said satchel page. so, great players knew that the negro league's harbored the best and brightest. unfortunately, they never had the opportunity to show it. so, i celebrated the advent of jackie robinson. and i must say, i was a yankee fan who rooted for robinson. i was considered a traitor by my fellow yankee fans. but i always wanted robinson to shine because he was one of our
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guys. he represented the oppressed underclass, he represented the workers and the people who are marginalized by the dominant forces in our society. so, for me, it was hallelujah time. >> let me ask you guys this, before we go to slide to. i have two thoughts when i'm listening to this, and have the same conversation where we talk about, in football, how long it took for black quarterbacks. you think about how far, if we would've been an enlighten country back in 19 -- if we would've just gotten this done back in 1946. if we would've just gone ahead and integrated, done the right thing, how far baseball would have been. how better the game would have been sooner. that's the dilemma of racism, even as we deal with it today. how our close minded nist just
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holds us back as the nation. because, at the end of the day, but they say? it was good for business -- not integration, diversity. diversity is in fact good for business. diversity prove to be great for major league baseball, it proved to be great for the national football league. if they would have just to see him that ben, how far would we have been as a nation had we just grown-up? sort of a question, i'm not sure it can be dealt with. but all of brutality, all the hatred, close minded-ness, how far ahead the game of baseball would have been had it just cast doubt it's buckets. >> it goes back to abraham lincoln being shot and being replaced by a southern racists who undid everything that lincoln was trying to do. what if he hadn't been shot?
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but if we had had integration in 1865, instead of 1954? >> yeah, i'm always thinking, how does the past relate to the president? that's what all of this is about. what jackie had to go through, to get us to really recognize our potential as a nation. it's like pulling teeth. it's still like pulling teeth! >> well, there was a stereotypical view that blacks, to use your quarterback theme, were unable, they didn't have the leadership skills or the ability to be quarterbacks. well, the first black quarterback was fritz pollard, who played professional football and actually was the first black coach. and he won the first championship of the nfl. something that is not widely known but is in my new book.
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so, clearly, the best quarterbacks today, to switch from baseball the football for a moment, are indeed, with the exception of tom brady, black. patrick mahomes is the avatar of the black quarterback. for years, they were shunted to the marginal positions. yes, they played running back and split ends. you are an end morgan state, where you are not, bill rhoden? >> i pretended to be, yes. >> okay. i read your book and i knew you were a better athlete than you admit to. but here's the deal. the blacks were denied representation at the higher levels, just before jackie died he pleaded for a black coach or
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manager on the third base line when he was honored for the 25th anniversary of his pioneering effort. in cincinnati, at the world series. a few days later, i think it was 19 days, he died, you might say, of a broken heart. >> we're gonna get to that a little later on. let's go to slide number two, as we -- now, this is a jackie robinson comic book, front page to your left and first page on your right. it's stated 1950. getting into our theme of here is this guy who is the first to breakthrough, and by 1950 he's got a comic book. imagine being a black person a 1950 when racism is awful and
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where we're all the subject of caricature is, here you've got this proud black man being put in a very complimentary position. it shows, what does it say, jackie robinson, sports thrills galore starting the dashing dodger. what do you guys think about this? in other words, here he was, does that goes with what you are saying, had he not been successful. he was so successful that he is now being put on the cover of a comic book. jackie's nimble, jackie's quick, jackie makes the turnstiles click. money was a main fan of mr. ricky's life. and he knew that jackie robinson was a money machine,
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for him and the brooklyn dodgers. but there is another reason for that comic book. and i don't know if it was intended or not. in order to break racism's barriers, you have to reach young people. who reads comic books? young people. this was a great step forward. a hero who was black but the comic strips who were read by all kids. myself included. whenever i got an a on a report card, my parents gave me a dime for a comic book. that's how i learned to read. >> interestingly, in this book, i'm not sure one of you pointed it out, in this comic book it did not mention his roots in the negro league. it was almost, his baseball life began with the brooklyn dodgers. no mention made of his roots.
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in negro league baseball. but i wanted to know what you guys thought about that, but also a few minutes ago we were talking about what ifs, and i guess because we did go to a historic black college, a black institution, i always wondered about negro league baseball, and what 1 million dollar business was. and i wondered if any of you subscribed to the idea that the negro league baseball had to be sacrificed for the greater good. i am really wondering how true that was. if negro league baseball could have flourished and survived, and was jackie the beginning of the end, or was that unnecessary and? >> if major league baseball wants jackie and roy campanella, and ernie banks, brett robinson, and it goes on and on, once
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owners conclude rightly that these men can take their team to the world series, then you have at the time 16 team owners who are going to go through the negro leagues and pick the very best of them and take them into the major league's. by definition when you do that, the quality of play in the negro leagues is going to suffer. the negro leagues did manage to stay alive until 1955 believe it or not. and finally, no longer wear their enough very good players to play in the league and the whole thing finally collapsed. i >> was that the cost of doing business? one of my heroes is a guy name route foster. he was the founder of negro league baseball and whose idea was not what ultimately
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happened, the cherry-picking you described, his idea was to get an entire league, one entire team to go into major league baseball. and maybe -- it was going to crush any competition. was that just the price of progress? >> as long as you head kenesaw mountain landis as the commissioner of baseball, you are not going to see one african-american person playing baseball. he came in in 1920 after the black sox and they gave him complete power. he was in there for life and he was going to be the commissioner who made all of the decisions, there were no votes by owners or anything like that. it was up to him. kenesaw mountain landis very early on made it clear, no african american would ever play major league baseball as long as he was the commissioner. he died in 1944.
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and i will tell you something else, rickie was fortunate that the next commissioner, who was albert happy chandler, the senator of the governor of kentucky, a senator from kentucky, when ricky was going to bring robinson up they voted. 15 teams voted no way could robinson play, the only team that voted to allow him to play with the brooklyn dodgers. and he went to happy chandler and chandler said, when i go to heaven, i will not be, god will not keep me out because i would not allow a black man to play baseball. you go ahead and you make your experiment. happy chandler as far as i can see is a sort of lesser hero but also a hero as well. >> yes. >> peter wrote that eloquent essay that was published on
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jackie robinson, and he cites other white supporters, and part of the essence of robinson was to raise self esteem among african americans. a black newspaper reporter once lamented that more blacks were attending the kansas city blues minor league team that was operated by the yankees than they were going to the kansas city moderates in the same city. apparently there was this belief that why baseball was a superior brand. nevertheless, the all-star game that was an annual event, brought out people in their sunday best. and it was a ritual, and it helped as route foster predicted, it would create opportunities for black entrepreneurs, and when the
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negro leagues died in 1955, that was the trade-off, integration brought blacks in, and jackie commented on that. he had reservations about the negro leagues, the atmosphere, he felt that they didn't train as hard, that they were not as well respected, and so he had some negative feelings that alienated some of his players. and by the way, he was not the best negro league baseball player to enter the major leagues as the pioneer. monty orban had a better record as a negro leagues baseball player. larry adobe had a superior record. so, jackie was chosen for the right reasons, by branch ricky. he was an officer in the army. a gentleman. he was about to be married.
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he had a college education, and he had this experience at ucla, playing against the white competition, the best. in fact, when he was in the college all-star game, playing against the chicago bears, the bears one, but the only player they feared according to the records, that animated from the newspaper reports, they feared jackie robinson who scored a touchdown against the champion bears. so it's a complicated issue. jackie may have contributed to the demise of the negro leagues. maybe that is why, to answer your question, maybe that is the reason why he was absent from the comic book coverage.
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>> you are right,, it is very complicated, one of my problems about integration is that it was all done on white folks terms, in other words we want a black person who will make white people feel comfortable. this turning of the cheek. and again, it's easy for me to sit there, because in that time, even my -- that was my first newspaper job. for american newspaper. and we really used to debate this. about, whenever i would bring this up. and he would say, a lot of black folks -- so, it is what it is, but i always had this mixed bag about integration, on whose term is integration done? to make the rich or richer, or
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like you are saying, but if we do not have integration, there is no way that we will let this major league baseball flourish and become competitive. we can debate. but let's go to slide number three. good slide number three. it's a great photo, guys, this is jackie robinson and kiwi reese at the training camp at dodgers town in the early 50s. peter, since you wrote the book teammates. when you tell us about this relationship -- there you go, great cover. between peewee reese and jackie robinson. separate the real from the fiction. >> when jackie was coming from hawaii, the top was that he was
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going to replace peewee reese as the shortstop on the dodgers. and some of the southerners, of course peewee was a southerner, from louisville, kentucky, these other southerners came to peewee and said peewee, it's african american -- of course they didn't call him an african american. he's coming to take your job. amazingly enough, what's peewee said to him, if he's good enough to take my job, he can have it. that is something amazing. when i was interviewing rex barney for my book, bums, he was telling me that they were in philadelphia and cincinnati and boston. so, we'll talk about cincinnati, because teammates talks about cincinnati which is across the river from louisville, kentucky. which is peewee hometown. so, the dodgers and 47 are playing for the first time in
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cincinnati. the white fans in cincinnati, robinson's playing first base, peewee at shortstop, the fans are booing jackie because he's black. rex was the picture this day, so i know that had happened. he said peewee walked across the diamond and put his arm around jackie robinson's shoulders. and the two of them stood there. he said the crowd was silenced, absolutely silenced. he said it was one of the more -- see if you can see that. >> beautiful. >> that's the painting of it. he said it gave him goose bumps. he said it was one of the more incredible things he saw as a majorly ballplayer. for all the terrible treatment
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that jackie robinson received from a few of his teammates and from too many of his opponents, he took great pride, i guess, great -- it just made him feel good that people like peewee reese and a couple of the other teammates, stan musical was certainly one of them, who appreciated him for his talents. made it easier for him to succeed. >> now, i've heard, i was looking at an interview with ken burns and he said that moment never really happened. >> if ken burns would like to say that to my face, i'd be more than happy to punch him out. >> we should've had him on this panel. >> i agree with peter. one of jackie's biographers also made that assertion.
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but i was told, not only by peter but others, i think that definitely a gesture like that occurred at least three stadiums. one of them would cincinnati. >> why would rex barney tell me that law sorry if it didn't happen? you asked can do that, will you? >> i think we should calm and have him on this panel like, now. jackie didn't mention it in his autobiography. you would think that he had mentioned it. >> jackie, i don't know if he took the kindness is for granted but he didn't congratulate white people for being nice to him. that's not who jackie was. you >> write, he told roger khan that after all the abuse he took he would come to his
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stanford home and go to the backyard and use a golf ball. because golf of our white. and he whacked it all around the place. that's how he laid out his aggression. because he was unable to really, unless there is one exception when he took davy williams out, he meant to attack sow the barber maggie, later his teammate on the 56 dodgers. but maggie would throw and it's chin. in fact, jackie was hit by more pitches in his rookie year than the entire dodger team. he had to take a lot of abuse. i'm sure that led to his premature death at the age of 53. >> to that, point let's go to this next slide. slide number four. because i think that speaks to family. we talked about this before we
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came on. here we see rachel, the beautiful rachel robinson, jackie and i guess that's david, probably, his oldest son. again, peter, you mention it's unimaginable, after having the kind of days at the office that shakir of vince and had, what it was like to go home after having to take all of this and go home and just the pressure on rachel. the pressure on david. later on sharon. of course, we know the pressure on jackie junior. >> a point of information, i think that's jackie junior who is the oldest son. david is the youngest. >> right, right. >> jackie looks much too young in that picture to be the father of david, who was born several years later. >> maybe this is jackie junior. >> that's right, i think so, for the record.
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>> i grew up in stanford, where jackie was. my uncle was jackie's attorney. so, in the 1956 world series, i was ten and my uncle took me to the game. jackie was considering moving from new york city to stanford. after the game, which the yankees won, by the way. it was a game prior to larson's no-hitter. he took me into the dodger clubhouse where i got to meet jackie robinson. he was the most impressive large person i had ever seen. i never, ever forgot it. another thing that i recall was that i went to see jackie robinson junior playing a little league game in stanford. i'm sitting in the stands, listening to these adults screaming at this 11-year-old kid. you will never be as good as your father. it just broke my heart, with
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just terrible. >> yeah, i mean, -- when we look at this picture and you see, we're seeing, we agree of jackie robinson junior, i guess a tragedy even becomes what we know is coming. we know that the pressure you talked about, peter, at the little league just became too much. >> he had a drug problem. jackie junior had a drug problem and crashed his car. died in a car crash. >> he died, i believe he died in 71. >> yes. >> which was a year before his father died. >> which is certainly another reason, you know, causing his father's death. that's just terrible, just really terrible. >> if we look at that picture again, can we see the picture again? show the picture again. >> i'd like to jump in here. jackie's father abandoned his
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family. >> that's right. >> so, here you have the intact nuclear family and the love between rachel and jackie was something that lasted throughout their life. she was his rock and his broad and his support. without her, he never could've accomplished all that he did. the tragedy is jackie himself said when his son succumbed, first to drug addiction and then to the death, he said i was a better father figure to so many children, black as well as white. so, you took this very seriously. and probably advanced his terminal point. jackie probably was playing, in his last two years, with a not
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well-known secret. i think he already had diabetes. i think some recent reports have indicated that. that certainly could explain his changing physique and also his inability to he maintained that great jackie robinson speed throughout his early career. so, he had so much weighing on him. but the solidity of that family kept him alive as long as he endured. >> listen, we're getting to the questions. let's take a look at the last two slides and then we will take some questions. let's look at slide number five. isis is the premiere. here we are. this is the premiere of the jackie robinson story. we've got the president cash
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more and robinson, raising the dodgers national league flag over a marquee of the astros theater. again, here we have this proud black man, 1950, this is three years, four years after making history. and he's living the life. look at him, striking, very striking figure. very handsome. he and rachel make a very handsome couple. rachel still looks like, that by the way. we don't have to go into detail but the movie, where jackie played himself. either of you remember this? or just remember the reaction to it? again, at that point, he's on top of the world. >> yes, it was written in the opening sequence, jackie doesn't have a glove and he sees a white family playing. and says, mr., can i join you?
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it's sort of like the white father presents who takes jackie in. there's so much in that film that is good, and the best part is jackie and ruby dee as his wife, rachel. but there's also no identification of some of the teams. there is misidentification of his enemy. ben chapman isn't fully fleshed out. the trouble with that film, it was shot just before spring training in 1950. it was done on the cheap. the director actually had gained fame by doing the tulsans story in 46. and a sequence two years later. a lot was expected. thank your former colleague,
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bosley crowther, he said the best thing about the movie was jackie robinson. for a non professional actor, he was the best part of that disappointing film. and, of course, the thing that bothered me was that sequence in which he's attacking paul robeson. and doing the bidding of branch rickey, who is a very conservative republican. leicester granger, head of the urban league, tried to show that blacks weren't going to become dupes of the communist party. so, there was this red scare element. and rachel was also adamant that he should testify but for that house on american activities committee. many years later, jackie
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regretted what he said about paul robeson. he said paul robeson gave up a career. in fact, robeson was the highest earning black artist in 1947, earning over 100,000 a year due to the blacklist. he went down to 3000 and lost his passport. so, jackie played the game of being anti robeson. the amsterdam news defended robeson, but the white press made jackie the hero of that encounter. which i described in detail in my book on paul robeson. and i feel that jackie understood that he had aired. for one, going in public at attacking a fellow black activist. at the end of his life, in that
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autobiography, he says if i had known then but i know now i would never have attacked paul robeson. because i realize now, i'm a black man in a white world. and i never had it made. so true, so sad. >> i think what he said at the time, he said at the time i did not realize there was destructiveness of america. and, if given the invitation now, i would -- i just saw that as such a, for a guy who did everything he did and to finally get this point and to look back and realize you everything he gave. that he was sort of not duped but he made a bad decision. but he was a manager. he was man enough to admit that he had made a mistake. robeson actually did not kill robinson. he actually reached out in he was quite, he didn't denounce him. >> paul junior told me this
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when i interviewed him. of course, he contributed to our book. he said, he went to abbott's field and he said to his father, he said that your famous. please get jackie robinson's autograph for me. and he said, no son, this would embarrass jackie. and so robeson showed restraint. so there was a mutual admiration between these two giants of the african american world. and perhaps that's too insular a description. both of them were people, humans who bestowed the world like great colossi. they were giants in their own way. unfortunately, the cold war was really heating up at that time. and so robinson, who was the first african american to win
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the mvp that year. was also used as a stooge of branch rickey and the cold warriors to be their champion. >> let's do this. like you said, to his credit, at the end of his life, he set the record straight. let's look at this last slide because we got, we don't want -- this is the funeral program for jackie robinson. 1972. 1972, riverside church, new york city. and if you look at the pall bearers. jesse jackson did the eulogy, roberta flack. if you look at the active pallbearers. bill russell, mani irving. martin --
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jim gilligan. ralph baraka. peewee reese. joe black. honorary pallbearers. willie mays. joe louis. nelson rockefeller who robinson supported. willie stargill. you could just imagine what that scene was like. in 72 and like he was saying, it was only nine days earlier, in cincinnati, that the world series. they've been trying to get jackie to come out and make a public appearance and he had resisted, resisted. he finally went out and we all remember his last, that last prophetic line. when he talked about he's pleased to be here today but i'll be more pleased when i look at that third base line and see a black manager. and we were talking about that before on the air that here we are. however many
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years, 50 years later. and we've got two black managers. i guess i want to ask you guys, before we take questions. i'm sure that if jackie were alive now, he might think that he'd been on this huge merry-go-round. there you go miles and miles and miles in a circle and when you get off, you really are in the same place. you really haven't travel that far. what do you guys think that jackie would have made of this current situation in baseball? seemed like there was resistance to -- that was my question to you. that was my question to you. early on, when i said remind me of it. >> how political do you want to get? >> as political as you want to get. >> we have in the state of florida, a governor who doesn't want it discussed, critical
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race theory. who doesn't want to discuss the fact that there was slavery prior to the civil war. who doesn't want to discuss that african americans were discriminated against for 100 years. he doesn't want that discussed. and they've passed a bill in the legislature preventing people from talking about it in schools. what would jackie say to that? >> he would talk about it. i'm sure he would talk about it. you know, that's, when we look at what we've just gone through these last five years and we look at what we've talked about in this last hour. about jackie robinson and how he resonates. we talk about the florida legislature. the quote unquote president we had. and you ask what would jackie have said and
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you wonder if he would've said, what is it all for? or are we supposed to get from him the stamina to continue to fight? >> i suspect the latter. >> i'm sorry, i didn't mean to interrupt. >> go ahead, i was just going to say jackie would have done the latter. jackie was absolutely a fighter. >> bill, if you go through the archive of the new york times. letters to the editor. you'll find many letters that jackie wrote on a number of issues. criticizing even his own mentor, political mentor, nelson rockefeller. or his former hero, richard milhouse nixon. jackie was constantly on the ball. his eyes were on the prize and the prize was dignity, justice and humanity. for example, he took
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issue with malcolm x over an incident of antisemitism near the apollo theater. and he defended the owners of the apollo theater, the schiffman family, jews, and he said jews our our best friends, malcolm. so i dispute your antisemitic bromides and jackie took issue with that principle point. and so jackie, as you said earlier, had the ability to change what the times. for example, he realized that the naacp had lagged behind the student nonviolent committee. and so he cast his lot with martin luther king. he supported the vietnam war where as -- his son was a victim of that war and drug addiction. but later when dr.
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king opposed the war, he gradually came to king's position. not publicly but in the exchange between these two great figures. so jackie was a study in transformation. not only was he a transformative figure for the rest of society, he himself was capable of growth. and his tragic death is bemoaned by many. it came at a time of turbulence, social discontent and he was neglected for a while. thanks to roger khan and peter golenbock and
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you, in your wonderful book about the overpaid slaves, there is a sense of a tradition that you talk about. the black style and the ability of willie mays and his catch and r. c. owens with his catches and his ability to catch field goals. necessitating a change in the rules. that style that jackie, jackie combined two elements. he combined the negro style, negro leagues style of speed and power and gave baseball a far more important change than babe ruth gave it. as you all pointed out correctly, babe ruth changed baseball and -- saved baseball from the scandal, the black sox scandal so called. but jackie transformed
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america. we are a better nation and we can evoke the words of the poet, langston hughes, when he urged us to make america america again. if anybody contributed to coming to the -- closer to the fruition of the american dream, it was jack roosevelt robinson. and i think as i get a little verklempt and i think about him as one of the truly greats in the words of the poet stephen spender. he was born of the son, he traveled a short while to the sun but he left a vivid air signed with his honor. >> wow. man, i think that's such a great way to end our
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part of the discussion. this has been -- we've spoken for an hour, we could go for another two hours. this has been great. we have time to take about three questions. i'm going to read the questions from the audiences. been very patient. and hopefully captivated. and you can take turns taking this or you can just jump in. question number one from rob. please talk about your take on robinson's relationship with his teammates. maybe peter, you can take that. >> yeah. robinson was not a friendly guy. he was not somebody who pal-ed around. he had rachel for that. so for instance, peewee and duke and a couple of the other guys might carpool to the games. jackie was not part of that group.
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that's the beauty of baseball. you don't have to be bosom buddies to be a great shortstop, second base combination. you don't even have to like each other. you just have to play well together. so jackie was not somebody who went out of his way to make friends. that's not who jackie was. >> joe, this is from linda and vic. would the dodgers have stayed if moses had agreed on a stadium at the long island railroad terminal? >> i would like to believe they would have. but knowing walter o'malley, along with joseph stalin and adolf hitler as the three most evil men in history, and of course, pete hamill had a great anecdote. if you have these three men, these three
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evil men in the same room and you have a gun with two bullets. who do you shoot? and the answer is you shoot o'malley twice. [laughs] that's pete hamill. but the idea of, you know, the revisionist historians are trying to take the blame off o'malley. and it's true, moses, who sometimes confused himself with the biblical moses, who was responsible for demanding that they take the property now occupied by citi field. because it was one of the bad decisions of moses to run two world's fairs at that location. and o'malley said, quite correctly, how can we call them the
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brooklyn dodgers if they play in queens? we can ask the same question about the new york jets and the new york giants playing football in jersey, in the jersey swamps instead of where they belonged originally and belong now. in new york. so, i would say the blame, 75% o'malley, 25% moses. >> for either of you, this is from jack. any idea what happened to the iconic abe star hit sign billboard, did it survive the parks demolition? >> no. they busted that place up with a giant -- >> actually, paul furlough was so adept in right field that the sign had no value whatsoever. even when it was up.
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>> that's true. >> here is our last question. from michelle. what do you think jackie robinson would say about colin kaepernick taking a knee and then being thrown out of the nfl? >> jackie would be appalled. jackie would be appalled, he'd be appalled because this is trump's doing. this all had to do with trump and his rotten politics. i still can't understand how kaepernick, who is such a talented ballplayer, is not back in the nfl. except for everybody's fear of donald trump. it was disgusting. absolutely disgusting. >> i totally agree. if you look at the continuity, it was jackie robinson who, at the new york times forum that was on w q x r in 1953, jackie robinson
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was the guest. and he's called out the new york yankees for being the jim crow yankees. and he knew full well that the yankees had harbored some great talent, including vic power, who should have been the yankee first baseman. he was a great fielder. but because he dated white women and he had a very good sense of humor when he went into a kansas city restaurant and was refused service. he said, why? they said, we don't serve negros here. and they use a different version of negro. and he said that's cool because i don't eat negros. because of his uppity manner and because he caught, -- by the way, he also caught with one hand, with traditional first baseman strategy or usage. in those days, you had to catch with two hands. he was the best according to bill
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scour in, the best person to cover first base playing the deep first base. almost in the middle of between first and second. no one could get to the base faster than vic power. but the yankees decided that he wasn't yankee material. so what do they do? they traded him to the philadelphia phillies. and then when they got ousted powers who was a brilliant player. could play the outfield in catcher. what does casey stengel say? he said, we finally got, he used the n-word, and he's the only one who can run. so racism ran very deep in the yankee culture. many of the players were southerners and george weiss was reluctant to get black players. but jackie, as an answer to the question,
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jackie called out the yankee administration. he would have called out nixon and he would've called out all these tycoons. but here's the kicker, or here's the deal, to quote joe biden's favorite phrase. when robert kraft, with whom i went to college, many years ago, i apologize for that. robert kraft gave millions of dollars to trump but eventually he realized that his players on the patriots could in fact kneel. white players and black players knelt. and sorry, freudian slip, trump lost that wedge issue. colin kaepernick may have contributed to the victory of joe biden because that became the wedge issue that worked against the trump fascists. and i want to commend
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peter golenbock, he's a great writer but not many people know that he's equally gifted in politics. he wrote the best takedown of donald trump in the publishing business today. the american caesar. so i hail caesar, you're my cesar, peter golenbock. >> on that note, what a great note to end this conversation. wonderful. great takedown, hail cesar. just so eloquent. this has been such a great hour. peter, thank you so much. this is been an honor. joe, thank you so much. been a honor. >> the honor is all mine, bill, it's all mine. >> having you as our leader proves that blacks can be quarterbacks. [laughs] >> i want to thank you all. that was really good listening. i would say that was some good
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listening. it was brilliant conversation, wonderful. deepest thanks to you all and i want to say to everybody who is here still. the program has been recorded and we're going to post it on the center for brooklyn history youtube page tomorrow. and this is the fourth of our five part series of out of the box. and then the next one, which happens in the first week of may, i hope that you all join us for this is a look at our -- it's called marching towards brooklyn's march towards civil rights. looking at some of our really important civil rights related collections including the core collection, proclaimed core congress, racial equality. the youth in action, bedstuy youth in action. and we have two extraordinary historians, brian for now, dr. brunelle who wrote finding jim crow in the county of kings. and mike wadsworth who wrote about -- war on
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poverty new york city. i hope you join us for the program and i hope you'll join us for some of the other programs that we present. mostly i want to say thank so much to the three of you for a truly unforgettable conversation. i think it is, it's just one for the record books. so thank you, everyone. have a great night.
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etta hunnicutt who teaches a class about baseball during the great depression. >> for today, based on american foray


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