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tv   Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers  CSPAN  August 22, 2022 8:02pm-9:23pm EDT

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so, thank you so much.
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thank you everybody for tuning in tonight. hello everyone. thank you so much for joining us. i'm marcia eli from the brooklyn public library's center for brooklyn history and the arts and culture team bpl presents.
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this year brooklyn public library celebrates, its 125th anniversary. our birthday is a chance to talk about all the library does and one important part of that work is stewarding the extraordinary special collections at the center for brooklyn history. these are archives are the combined materials from the brooklyn public libraries special collections. and 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 and a 125th anniversary series titled out of the box. five programs that put just few of the most important or most frequently used or beloved materials center stage clearly the dodgers and robinson have to be part of that lineup so tonight we're bringing together a really fantastic 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 cbh archivist sarah quick, but before turning this 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. and very importantly, i hope you'll share your questions for our incredible panel tonight to do that type into the q&a box, which is also at the bottom of my screen of your screen now, it is my great pleasure to turn this over to sarah quick. all right. thanks marsha. my name is sarah and i'm an archivist at the center for brooklyn history, and i'm going
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to talk for just a few minutes about the dodgers items that we have in our archival collections at cbh. we have about 11 collections. so this is going to be just a general overview with a few examples to give you an idea of what's in our collections and if they could be helpful to your research or just your general interest. i should also mention that we also have a large selection 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 score cards from the various parks and a lot of them have hand-written notes or tallies from the original owners. i've also come across a few that have little sketches of them. another thing i want to note is that these have a lot of advertisements for local businesses. so the research value can really extend. yeah baseball. next slide please. the walter o'malley brooklyn dodgers records include a large amount of correspondence regarding you know, what you
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might expect the example on the left is a note from o'malley to robert moses mentioning the major league opportunities in los angeles and the example on the right is mayor robert wagner basically echoing the thoughts and feelings of a lot of brooklynites asking o'malley not to take the dodgers out of brooklyn next slide, please. another really interesting series in the o'malley collection is maps of the proposed sites for a new stadium in brooklyn, which of course never came to be including one fairly close to cbh down in dumbo and this is another collection that i think goes really beyond just baseball history beyond basal history and has a lot of research potential in urban planning and development politics. i mean you name it. next slide please. and of course we have baseball cards covering nearly every decade and a really wide variety of players and for tonight. i didn't scan the backs of the cards, but you can typically expect player stats or an advertisement for the company
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that produced the cards. and next slide, please. we also have a really nice variety of professionally produced and recorded music and some printed sheet music, but we also have some original chance which were composed by fans or fan clubs, and these are really fun and they can be like kind of sassy and some of them are better than others, but i think the one i've included here is a really good example and really interesting so you can sort of see the editing process. next slide please. and 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. and these are really just one of a kind items that demonstrate the loyalty their creativity and the sense of community that people really got are just a still get from being a daughter's fan their first-hand accounts of what bands were feeling and thinking and what they want it to share and i think these are just great next
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fight, please. so my last example is our collection of tickets and signed baseballs. we have a really large amount of tickets, especially from the 40s and 50s and the baseballs which date to about the same time and i would say that these are items that don't get a lot of requests but they're there and they're available. so please keep them in mind next slide, please. so that's gonna wrap up my portion of the program and i just wanted to remind everyone that the center for brooklyn history is a public library, and we're not just for the serious researcher. this is your library, please use it and marsha. i'm going gonna 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 welcome them to join. i'll start with joe dorenson.
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joe. dorenson is a retired professor in the history department at long island university where he began to teach in 1966, joe co-edited the prize-winning book jackie robinson race sports and the american dream. his latest book the black athlete as hero american barrier-breakers in nine sports. we'll be published this summer by mcfarland. welcome joe. and back is one of the nations best known sports authors bums his book on the brooklyn dodgers is considered a classic. he has written 10 new york times bestsellers and has two books out right now valentine's way with bobby valentine and whispers of the gods tales from baseball's golden age told by the men who played it out. just last month. welcome peter. you so much. my pleasure. and our moderator tonight is
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bill roden. bill is a columnist and editor at large for the undefeated espn. it's news excite about sports week 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's sports reporters. he is the author of several books including 40 million dollar slaves the rise fall and redemption of the black athlete and third in a mile the trials and try and of the black quarterback bill has won a peabody award is writer of the hbo documentary journey of the african-american athlete and he also wrote the emmy award-winning documentary breaking the huddle the integration of college football. and finally, i really want to mention that in collaboration with the undefeated espn and the walt disney company bill established the road and fellowship now and it's sixth year the road and fellowship. trains and supports aspiring
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african-american journalists from historically black colleges and universities i want to thank you all so much for being here. i am really looking forward to your conversation and bill i turn this over to you. thank you so much marsha, and this is really a very special. these are two two writers and two folks. i've i've just had so much respect for peter and joe our past of intersected and i really respect what you guys have done and represented for for years and every time i hear about the books that you you've written i say god, what have i been doing with my life? but really it is a pleasure and honor to be on this panel in particularly. you know, this is april and that always means a lot of stuff means baseball is in the air, but it also means jackie robinson and what we're gonna do
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there's six lies that we're going to look at and we're gonna riff on, you know, both of you have written extensively about the dodgers and about robinson and the team and i want you to put a you know, the dodges and robinson and and context but one question i want to ask you before we go to the slides. is a question question for each of you. why is robinson so continued to be so enduring? i mean, this is remember we're talking about 75 years after he broke into baseball and and 50 years after his death. he still vibrant he still. a fresh. he's still part of the american psyche and i guess i want from each of you maybe start with you joe and then you peter why is this, you know a particularly in our field in athletics where you're only as good as your stats as soon as you retire, you know, an athlete's find this out the hard way, i think tom brady found out that moments after he
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retired you realize he was yesterday's news, but here we have somebody who's been who's been there for five decades and who broke into baseball 75 years old. why does jackie robinson joe? why does he continue the resume? bill, i am having problems with i hope can you see me now? can you hear me now? you're right. okay, thank you. i was ready to press the panic button. jackie robinson is a man for all seasons. and i want to thank you and and peter. for being the giants which i stand to to make my my pitch for jackie robinson, i would like to point out that my introduction to the new book was largely derived from bill rodens work and peter golombach's work. so i am honored to be in their
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company. they are true giants and 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. a uniquely at ucla and ironically baseball was probably his weakest sport. football being his best. nevertheless because of the barriers racial barriers deeply embedded 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 an image of
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moderation for the first two years but in 1949. branch ricky remove the reins and jackie had a season to remember unmatched by many other ball players in the hall of fame. he hit 342. he knocked in over 120 runs. he stole 37 bases. he led the dodgers to the pennant and unfortunately god proved to be a dodger yankee fan and the dodgers lost despite having a much better lineup except for pitching robinson was able finally to be his own person. and doing that he set the stage for integration of hotels restaurants businesses, and he was able as we mentioned earlier
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before the telecast he moved from supporting nixon in 60 to supporting humphrey and 68. so he's a man who changes with the times but he remains a permanent fixture in the american pantheon. joe and you you put him in context perfectly my question remains peter again in terms of his longevity. i mean we both seen many many athletes who are great in the moment and who we could barely remember them, but here it is. uh, jackie robinson become so endurance and and i just want to get a position from from you. why is that? why is he so in continues to be so enduring? there are a handful of athletes in american history babe ruth certainly is one jackie robinson
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is one muhammad. ali is one. very very few of that pantheon of importance. greatness what they mean to the american public i mean ruth ruth came out of the 1919 black sox scandal and started hitting home runs for the yankees and in effect save baseball. jackie robinson in 1947 in a country where african americans were supposed to never be seen and never be heard. and never have an important job. and never the influential he joined the brooklyn dodgers and he became the rookie of the year. despite the cat calls the pitchers who threw it him despite players who tried to injure him by spiking him
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despite all of that. jackie robinson became a star baseball player a few years later. he became the most valuable player. but more than that. more than that he told the black community that if i can be a success you can be a success too. don't forget brown vs board of education that that famous ruling supreme court ruling that that that did away with separate but equal. that was in 1954 robinson came along in 1947 and i do believe something i said in my book bums that robinson allowed martin luther king the success that he had if jackie robinson had been a failure who knew how many years it would have taken to to build up what jackie robinson himself had done to the society in america.
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after jackie came players like roy campanella players like don newcomb players like larry doby and it just kept going on and on and on to the point where nobody could say. african-americans don't have what it takes because these players showed them. they had every every bit as much as you know any of the white players and and robinson was the first and he will always be the first and and as far as i'm concerned he is probably i would say certainly the most important american athlete in our history and and you don't forget a guy like that. i mean we talk about babe ruth. still do to this day. we talk about jackie robinson to this day. we talk about muhammad ali to this day and there's a fourth one and that's billie jean king. she was responsible for title nine who allowed women to have the same rights as men in sports and life. right, and so well said and you
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said something i want to go back to i'm gonna stay on script because i'm immediately getting ready to improvise. i don't want to do that. but but both. oh peter you and joe please remind me because there's something you said about how his success open doors and when we end our discussion, i want to ask you both about why that has not translated into other aspects of baseball as it relates to managers, you know, the idea is that but i'll ask you the question when we get in but but just let's keep that in mind. yeah, let's keep that money. so but right now why don't we go to the video take we've got some great slides and can we show the first first this is an article from the brooklyn eagle dated, march 1st, 1946 and his title fair play is ricky's plea and this is when robinson was going
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to report to famous sanford, florida, and i think peter you you're read this letter. forest and then we're going to kind of chop it up, but let's put the letter in in context of why so significant what's so interesting about this piece of journalism. is that takes you back to 1947 and takes you back to that world. bailey you listen to the language of and it begins over at sanford 40 miles away. jackie robinson the space to face with his baseball destiny the first boy of his race in 50 years to enter professional baseball. that has been a white man's game ever since the young californian -- will have his first workout with the dodgers montreal farm hands when he reports to manager clay hopper either today or tomorrow. president branch rickey's last morning lecture to his sanford
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kindergarten class yesterday was a plea for fair play for robinson and pitcher john wright who was purchased primarily to keep jackie from becoming homesick with none of his own race around. we didn't sign these two boys because of any political pressure began the deacon soon warming up to a subject we did sign them because it's our desire to have a winning team in brooklyn. i would have signed an elephant to play shortstop if the elephant could have done better than anybody else. you have carried yourselves like gentleman here at camp. i want you to continue to be gentleman. all i ask of you is that you be yourselves. i would further remind you that clay hopper robinson's manager in montreal is himself a mississippian. and i'm going to interrupt myself for a second. because understand that when robinson was coming to the dodgers clay hopper who was indeed a, mississippi. came to branch ricky and he said
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to them. is this man a human being? upper had no. interest in managing jackie robinson and branch ricky said to hopper you better do exactly as i want you to do or you're going to be gone. and harper's career was more important than his racism and harper kept his mouth shut and and did a decent job with robinson. though the rest of the year. yeah tonight comment something that really rubbed me the wrong way as enlightened as ricky was in this statement. he refers to them as colored boys, which is degrading and it's part of the systemic racism that pervaded american even infected ricky's rhetoric colored boys. he's a man and he proved that on the field and off the field.
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that's why i wanted to read this article to show just that. that white america but did not look kindly upon african-american men. not at all. and as you read that as you as you pick up where you left just just you know, whenever i read something like this in particularly when i'm talking to younger people younger african-americans and you read this type of thing. and you know you let them know this was par for the course. or african-american men and women in this country what you had to put up with right called a girl being called a boy. no matter what your 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 and to put jackie robinson in a sort of context to quote prove your humanity. he was simple game of baseball. why don't you pick up? pick up peter where you were
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reading so we could he it went on doubt has been expressed that robinson will be able to play triple a ball. but he drew $400 a month from the kansas city monarchs. that was top pay for a player in the -- national league all of the players in the -- national league are not big leaguers, but there are enough to say that jackie moved in pretty fast company. now, of course, none of this is true either. many of the players who played in the leagues were a major league quality ball players without a doubt josh gibson satchel paige judy johnson, and i can name you ten more if they have been allowed to play. would have made fabulous major league ball players. in fact in 1939. um the the we could say i'm trying to think of his name. he owned a single was brown's
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all those years help me out. natural page. oh the owner of the browns. oh the browns um, okay build that work in 1939 bill back. wanted to buy the philadelphia phillies and and and take the 15 best -- league ball players and put them on the phillies, unfortunately. a couple of the executives in major league baseball found out what he tried to do and sold that team out from under him. but there are plenty of people who knew that african-american players in the -- leagues were just as good as the white players. beck certainly was one of them. so let me continue. colored collegian was a captain in uncle sam's army, but the rule that applies to discharge servicemen that they cannot be sent to a lower classification and that waivers must be asked
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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 baltimore the farthest the club farther south doesn't look for any trouble. of course, it can't guarantee protection from the hoodlum in the bleachers in the majority of the hotels the colored boys won't even have to be segregated. which of course is nonsense because there wasn't a hotel in america who allowed african-americans to stay there. it's felt that the white players will accept them white ball players have played against color teams for years in exhibition games after the close of the regular league season a great deal depends on the boys themselves in their department on and off the field robinson will be watched the more closely. he's really on the spot the
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future of the -- in baseball is out 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 do you think when you're listening to this? and i think that you were this is march, march 1st, 1946. i think in 46 years 10 years old. that's right, you know joe was. oh, you attend 10 years old i wasn't born yet. yeah, you were peter you would be born and if i was a neutral, yeah. yeah you were on the way you're on the way. yes 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 enlightened about race. i went to a camp camp kindling
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where i am fact saw paul robeson w e d the boys, so i was ready. for the advent of a great -- player and in my book and other articles i pointed out when joe dimaggio was asked back in 1939. who is the best picture he ever faced without batting an eyelash? he said satchel paige? so great players knew that the -- leagues harbored the best and the brightest unfortunately, they never had the opportunity to show it. so i celebrated the advent of jackie robinson. i was and i must say i was a yankee fan who rooted for robinson. i was considered a traitor. my my fellow yankee fans, but i always and robinson to shine because he was one of our guys
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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. right. let me ask you guys this before we go to slide 2, you know, one of the that i have two thoughts when i'm listening to this and i have the same conversation we talk about in football how long it took for black quarterbacks to be and you think about how far if we would have been an enlightened country. back in 194 if we were to just got this done back in 1946 and we were just gone ahead and integrated and done the right thing how far baseball would have been you know, how far it. you know, how better the game would have been sooner, you know, like that's the dilemma of racism even as we deal with it
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today. how are closed-mindedness just holds us back as a nation because at the end of the day, what are they say, uh, what's the name was good for business not integration, but diversity. diversity is in fact good for business diversity proved to be great for major league baseball. it proved to be great for the national football league and if they would have just seen that then how far would we have been as a nation and we just you know growing up. it's sort of a question. i'm not sure you dealt with but that's what i think of when i think all the brutality all the hatred the closed mind is how far ahead the game of baseball would have been that it just you know cast on his buckets. oh, i mean it goes back to those back to abraham lincoln being shot and being replaced by a southern racist who one did everything that lincoln was trying to do. what if he hasn't been shot. what if we had had we had had
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integration in 1865 instead of 1954, right? yeah, you ready? and i think that's what we're that's you know, i'm always into how does the past relate to the press? and that's what all this is about what jackie had to do to get us to really recognize our potential as a nation and it's like pulling teeth still. it's still like pulling teeth, you know. well, there was a stereotypical view that blacks to use you quarterback theme. we're unable they didn't have the leadership skills or the ability to be quarterback. well the first black quarterback was for its pollard who played a 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 it's in my new book.
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so clearly the best quarterbacks today to switch from baseball to football for a moment are indeed with the exception of tom brady are black patrum. well homes is the avatar of the black quarterback, but for years blacks were shunted to the marginal positions. yes, they played running back and the split ends and you were a an ended morgan state. were you not bill roden didn't you play i pretended to be yes. okay. well, i i read your book and i know you were a better athlete than you thought admit to but here is the 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 baseline when he was honored for the 25th anniversary of his pioneering effort. in cincinnati at the world series and a few a few days later, i think was 19 days. he died. you might say of a broken heart. yeah, so we're gonna we're gonna get to that a little later on. let's go to slide number two as we now now this is a jackie robinson comic book a front page to your left and and first page on your rights dated 1950. what do you guys now again? kind of get into our theme of here's this guy i who is is the first to break through and by 1950. he's got a comic book and it's not, you know, imagine being a black person in 1950 when the racism is awful and where we're all this up the subject of
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caricatures and here you've got this proud black man being put in very in a very complementary position. it shows you know, what does it say jackie robinson sports thrills galore starring the dashing dodger. oh, what do you guys think about this in other words here? he was i guess it goes what you were saying, but you would joe and peter had he not been successful and he had he was so successful that he is now being being put on the cover of a comic book. jackie's nimble jackie's quick jackie makes the turnstiles click money was was a main theme of mr. ricky's life and he knew jackie robinson was a money machine for him and the brooklyn
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dodgers, but there's another reason for that comic book. and i i don't know that was intended or not. but it 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 but the comic strips 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. a die. that's how i learned to read. interestingly in this book. i'm not sure which one of you pointed out in this comic book. it did not it did not mention his roots in the -- leagues right the comment we could almost it began that his his baseball life began with the brooklyn dodgers and there was no mentioned may of his roots
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and and legally baseball was the kansas city martin monarchs. hey, i want to think what you guys thought about that. but also again just a few minutes we're talking about what ifs and i guess because i did go to a historical black college and it was very much into black institutions. i always wondered about legally baseball. and what what milk million dollar businesses was and i wonder if either you subscribe to the idea that the -- league baseball had to be sacrificed. for the greater good. i'm really wondering how true that was if -- league baseball could have flourished and survived and was jackie the beginning of the end, or was that a necessary end? what do you guys think about that? well if major league baseball once jackie and roy campanella and newcomb and larry, doby and ernie banks and frank robinson, and it goes on and once owners.
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conclude rightly that these men can take their team to the world series then you've got at the time 16 team owners who are going to go through the -- leagues and pick the very best of them. take them. take them into the major leagues and by definition when you do that the quality of play in the negle legs is going to suffer the -- leagues did manage to stay alive until about 1955 believe it or not. they survived and then finally finally no longer were there enough, you know, very good players to play in the league and the whole thing finally collapsed. but whether it has been doing with that joe was at the cost of doing business. you know, what am i? what am i heroes is a guy named ruth foster who you guys know? yeah and right rules idea. who's the founder the father's -- league baseball and rules idea was not what ultimately happened was the cherry picking you described peter.
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his idea was to get an entire team to go into major league baseball a black to go into major league baseball. it seems like major league baseball and maybe it wasn't because it was black baseball. it was just gonna crush any competition and you know and again get our question, you know, was that just the price of progress bill as long as you had kennesaw mountain landis as the commissioner of baseball you were not going to see one african-american person playing baseball. he came in in 1920 after the black socks and they gave him complete power. he was in there for life and he was going to be the commissioner who made all the decisions there were no votes by owners or anything like that. it was up to him. and kennesaw mountain landis very early on made it clear that no african-american would ever play major league baseball as long as he was the commissioner and he died in 1944. and i'll tell you something
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else. ricky was fortunate that the next commissioner who was albert. happy chandler who was the senator the the governor of kentucky the 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 was the brooklyn dodge and ricky went to happy chandler and chandler said when i go to heaven. i'm not going to be you know, god isn't going to keep me out because i would not allow a black man to play baseball. so you go ahead and you make your experiment. so happy chandler as far as i can see, this is sort of a lesser hero, but also a hero as well. yeah, yeah you peter wrote that eloquent essay that was published in our jackie robinson
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book and he cites other white supporters, you know part of the essence of robinson was to raise self-esteem among african americans a black a newspaper reporter once lamented that more blacks were attending the kansas city blues minor league team that was operated by the yankees, then they were going to the kansas city monarchs in the same city. apparently there was this belief that white baseball was a superior brand nevertheless the all star game that was annual event brought out people and in their sunday best and it was a ritual. and it helped as root force the predicted it would create opportunities for black entrepreneurs. and when the -- leagues died in
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1955, that was the trade-off integration brought blacks in better and and jackie commented on that. he he had reservations about the -- leagues atmosphere. he felt that in train is hard. they didn't they they were not as well respected and so he had some negative feelings and that alienated some of his players and by the way, he was not the best -- league baseball player. to enter the major leagues as the pioneer monty irvin had a better record as a -- league baseball player larry dobie had a superior record. so jackie was chosen for the right reasons by branch rickey. he was an officer in the army. he was a gentleman he was about
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to be married. he had a college education and he had this this experience that ucla playing against the white competition the best in fact when he was in the college all-star game played against the chicago bears. the bears won but the only player they feared according to the records that emanated from newspaper reports. they feared jackie robinson who scored a touchdown against the the champion bears. so it's a complicated issue and it's it's jackie may have contributed to demise of the -- leagues and maybe that's why to answer your question. that's maybe the reason why was absent from from the comic strip the comic book. coverage.
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yeah. yeah, let's go, you know, but you write it is very it is very complicated because one of my premises about integration is that it was all done on white folks terms. other words we want we want a black person who's gonna make white people feel comfortable whether it's turning the other cheek and again, it's easy for me to sit there and and look back because in that time even my mentor was sam lacey. and right yeah. yeah, that's my first newspaper job at the afro-america newspaper and sam was a sports editor and and we really became friendship and we use kind of debate debated this about when i ever i'd bring this up and he said well, you know, a lot of black folks were employed on the plantation too and that was more so, you know, i think that you know, it is what it is, but i always had this mixed bag about integration on whose terms is integration done to make the richer richer to make you know, or like you're saying you know,
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but but if would if we do not have integration, there's no way are we going to let this competitive legally baseball flourish and become a competitor is not going to happen so we can debate. let's go to slide number three. this is a great photo right guys. this is a jackie robinson pee wee reese at the brooklyn dodgers spring training camper dodger town in vero beach in the early 50s peter. why don't you you wrote the book. it was a teammates. yeah. yeah, why don't you give us a riff on on this relationship between uh, yeah. there we go. great cover between pee wee recent jackie robinson separate the real the fiction versus nonfiction. nonfiction. i'll be happy to um when jackie was coming from hawaii. the talk was that he was going
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to replace peewee reese as the shortstop on the dodgers. and some of these southerners and of course peewee was a southerner he was from louisville, kentucky. these other southerners came to peewee and said peewee, you know this african-american though, of course, they didn't call him an african american. how many take your job? an amazingly enough what peewee said to him if he's good enough to take my job. he can have it. that's that is something amazing. and when i was interviewing rex barney for my book bumps. rex was telling me. that they were in this he said this happened in philadelphia and in cincinnati and in boston. so we'll talk about cincinnati because that's teammates talks about cincinnati, which is across the river from louisville, kentucky. which is peewee's pee-wee's hometown. so the dodgers and 47 are playing for the first time in cincinnati. and the white fans in cincinnati
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robinson is playing first base. he was a shortstop. the fans are booing jackie because he's black. and rex was the pitcher this day so i know this that had happened. he said he we walked across the mountain across the the diamond. put his arm around jackie robinson's shoulders and the two of them stood there. and he said the crowd silence the crowd absolutely silenced. he said it was one of the more. if you can see that. beautiful not show. yeah. that's that's the painting to picture of it. and he said it gave him goosebumps. he said it was one of the more incredible things that he saw as a major league ball player. and you know for all that
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terrible for all the terrible treatment that jackie would robinson received from a few of his teammates and from too many of his opponents. he took great. pride i guess a great it just made him feel good that people like peewee reese and a couple of others teammates stem musial was certainly one of them who appreciated him for his talents. um made it easier for him to succeed. right now i've heard i was looking at an interview with with ken burns, and he said that moment never really happened. yeah. well if ken burns, yeah to my face, i'd be more than happy to punch him out. yeah, we should have we should have all this down. that would i i agree with peter. and one of jackie's biographers also made that assertion, but i
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was told not only by peter but others i think that definitely a gesture of that occurred at least three stadiums. and one of them was cincinnati, why would rex barney tell me that story if it didn't happen you asked us. can you ask kenny that would you please and i will in fact, i think we should have we should have called him and had him on this panel like now because you know because it is to mean jackie didn't mention it in his autobiography. you would think that he would have mentioned that jackie jackie. i don't know if he took the kindnesses for granted, but he he didn't congratulate white people for being nice to him. that's not who jackie was. right, right. he he told roger khan that when he after all the abuse, he took he would come to his stanford
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home. go to the backyard and use a golf ball because golf balls are white and whacked it all around the place. that's how he let out his aggression because he was unable to really unless there's one exception when he took david williams out he meant to attack sal the barber magley later his teammate on the 56 dodgers, but magley would throw at his chin. in fact, jackie was hit by more pictures in his rookie year than the entire dodger. a team and he had to take a lot of abuse and 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 them before because i think that speaks to a family and and we talked about this before we came on just the
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here we we see rachel the beautiful rachel robinson jackie and i guess that's david probably is always son and you know again peter you mentioned. it's unimaginable after having the kind of days at the office that jackie robinson had what it was like to go home after after having to take all of this and and to go home and just the pressure. on racial the pressure on david later on sharon and of course we know the pressure on jackie jr. jackie. okay point of information. i think that's jackie jr. who was the oldest son david is the youngest right? right jackie looks much too young to that picture to be the father of david who was born several years later. maybe this is jackie jr. all right, that's right. i think so for the record.
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yeah, but i i grew up in stanford. where jackie was my uncle was jackie's attorney. so in the 1956 world series, i was 10 and my uncle took me to the game. jackie was considering moving from new york city to to stanford and after the game, which the yankees won, by the way, it was the game prior to larson's no-hitter. he took me into the dodger clubhouse where i got to meet jackie robinson. was the most impressive large person i had ever seen i never ever ever forgot it. um, and and another thing that i recall was that i went to see jackie robinson jr. playing a little league game in stanford. and 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's just it's just broke.
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my heart was just terrible. yeah, i mean what would have been what you know and you when you when you when we look at this picture and and you see this we're saying we agree this jackie robinson jr. i guess the the tragedy even becomes what because we know what's coming. you know, we we know that the pressure you talked about peter at the little league game just became too much for another drug problem, right the jackie had a drug problem and he crash his car. yeah. yeah. he died. i believe he died in 701 which is yes here before his his father died, which is which is certainly another reason, you know causing his father's death. i mean, it's just terrible just really terrible and if we look at that picture again, can we see that picture again show the picture again? i'd like jump in here jack.
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father abandoned his family. that's right. and so here you have the intact nuclear family and the love between racial and jackie was something that lasted throughout their life and and she was his rock. and his rod and and his support without hurry could never have accomplished all he did and the tragedy as jackie himself said when his sons come 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 he took this very seriously and and probably advanced his terminal point. jackie probably was playing in his last two years with a well
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not well known secret. i think he already had diabetes. i think some recent reports of indicated that and that certainly could explain his his changing physique and also is inability to maintain that great jackie robinson speed throughout his early career. so he had so much weighing on his but the but the but the the solidity of that family. kept them alive as long as he endured. that's so we're getting that question --. let's look at these next to these last two slides and then we'll take some questions. let's look at the slide number five. this is the premiere. now here we are. this is a the premiere of the jackie robinson story. we've got the borough president
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cashmore and robinson raise the dodgers national league flag over a marquis of the astra theater again, you know, here we have this problem black man 1950. this is you know, three years. four years after making history and he's living a life. you know, he's uh, you look at him striking very striking. figure mary has he and rachel make the great handsome couple rachel still looks like that by the way, yeah, you know, just we don't have to go into detail, but you know who had the movie with jackie played himself? either of you remember this and just remember the reaction to it again at that point. he's on top. yes. yes, it was written. you know in the opening sequence jackie is doesn't have a glove and he sees a white family playing and say a mr. can i join you and it's sort of like the
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white father presence who takes jackie in there's so much in that film. that is good and the best part is jackie and ruby dee as as his wife rachel, but there's also there's no identification of some of the teams there is a misidentification of his enemy ben chapman isn't fully fleshed out and the trouble with that film that was shot just before spring training in 1950. it was done on the cheap. the director actually had gained fame by doing the johnson story in 46 and a sequence two years later and and a lot was expected.
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i think your former colleague bosley crowther said the best thing about the movie was jackie robinson. he played for a non-professional act. or he was the best part of that that disappointing film. and and of course the thing that bothered me was that sequence and where he's attacking paul robeson and doing the bidding of branch ricky. it was a very conservative republican put him up to him. lester granger was head of the urban league tried to show that blacks were not going to become dupes of the communist party. so there was this red scare element and rachel was also adamant that he should testify before the house on american activity committee and many years later jackie regretted
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what he said about paul robeson. he said paul robeson gave up a career. in fact, robson was the highest earning black artist in 1947 earning over a hundred thousand a year due to the blacklist. he went down to 3,000 a year and lost his passport. so jackie played the game of being auntie robson the amsterdam news defended robson. but the white press made jackie the hero of that encounter. which i described in detail on my book on paul robeson and i feel that jackie understood that he had aired for one going it in public and attacking a fellow black activist and at the end of his life in that autobiography
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the he says if i had known then what i know now, i would never attack paul robeson because i realized now. i'm a black man and a white world and i never had it made. yeah, so true. no say it was such a yeah, i think what he said at the time. he said that at the time i did not realize it was destructiveness of america and if given the invitation now, i'll try i just saw that as such a that's a for a guy who did everything he did and to finally get to this point and look back and realize everything he gave, you know that he was sort of that do what he made a bad decision, but he was a manner he was man enough to admit that he had made a mistake and i think ropes and it is ropes and actually then that killed robinson. i mean he actually reached out and he was quite he didn't he
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didn't denounce it. yeah, pull junior told me this and i interviewed him and of course he contributed to our book. said he went to ebbets field and he said to his father. he said dad. you're 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 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 and unfortunately the cold war. was really heating up at that
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time. and so robinson won the was the first african-american to win the mvp that year was also used i think as a stooge of branch ricky and the and the cold warriors to be their champion. yeah, yeah, let's do this and like you said to his credit he you know at the end of his life he was able to set the record straight it is right. let's look at this last slide because we've got we don't want the power. here's the this is the the funeral program for jackie robinson is 1972. um, you know 19 1972 riverside church, new york city right and if you look at you know, paul bearers, yeah, jesse jackson did the the eulogy roberta flack and if you look at the act pallbearers bill russell larry,
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dolan, mighty irving of martin element jim gillen, don newcombe ralph. branca. branca pee wee reese joe black honorary pallbearers willie mays joe lewis nelson rockefeller who robinson supported willie stargell pete. i mean just you know, you could just imagine what that scene was like. all right. he's 72 and like you were saying. it was only 90 days earlier in cincinnati that the world series. you know we cool. they've been trying to get jackie to come out make a public appearance and he had resisted and resisted. he finally went out and we all remember his last that last prophetic line. you know 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 are talking about
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that before we went on the air that here we are. you know, whatever how many every years 50 years later and we've got two black managers and i guess i want to ask you guys before we take questions. i'm sure that jackie were alive now. he might think that he'd been on this huge merry-go-round that you go miles and miles and miles in a circle and when you get off. you really are in the same place, you know, you really haven't traveled with that far and i i think that jackie would have made of this current situation in baseball. things like this resistant to you know my brother in fact, that was my question to you. that was my question to you early on was it reminded me of it bill how political do you want to get? as political because you want to get i mean, you know that this we we have we have in the state of florida a governor.
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who doesn't want it discussed? critical race theory right 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 discriminated against for a hundred years. he doesn't want that discussed. and they've passed a bill and 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, but you know that i doesn't that when we look at what we just gone through these last five years and we look at what we've talked about in his last hour about jackie robinson and and how he resonates but we talk about, you know, the florida legislator the quote unquote president we had you know with you know, i mean you
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and you ask what would jackie have said and you wonder if he would have said what is all for or are we supposed to get from him the the stamina to continue to fight maybe that maybe that's what well, i'm sorry. i didn't mean to interrupt. well, i was just gonna say jackie would have done the ladder jackie was absolutely a fighter. bill if you go through the archives of the new york times led us to the editor you will find many letters that jackie wrote. on a number of issues criticizing even his own mentor political mentor nelson rockefeller are his former hero richard milhouse. nixon. jackie was constantly on the ball. his eyes were on the prize and the prize was dignity.
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justice and humanity for example, he took issue with malcolm x. over an incident of anti-semitism near the apollo theater, and he defended the owners of the apollo theater the shipment family --, and he said -- are our best friend's malcolm. so i dispute your anti-semitic bromides and jackie took issue on that principle point. and so jackie as you said earlier had the ability to change with the times.
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for example he realized that the naacp had lacked behind cast his lot nonviolent committee snake. and so he cast his lot with martin luther king. he supported the vietnam war whereas and his son was a victim of that war and drug addiction but later when dr king. oppose the war he gradually came to the king's position. not publicly but in the exchange between these two great figures. so jackie was was a study in transformation. hey not only was a transformative figure for the rest of society himself. was capable of growth and his tragic death is bemoned by many it came at a time? of turbulence a social discontent and he was neglected for a while. thanks to roger khan. and peter golombach and you in your wonderful book about the high pace overpaid slaves. there was a sense of a tradition that you talk about the black style and and the the ability of a willie mays and his catch and the rc owens with his catches and his ability to block field goals necessitating a change in the rules that that style that jackie jackie combined two elements. he combined the -- style -- league style of of speed and power and gave baseball a far more important change than beiruth gave. basic as you all pointed out correctly babe ruth changed baseball and peter said save baseball from the the scandal
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the black sox scandals so called but jackie transformed america where 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 full closer to the fruition of the american dream, it was jack roosevelt robinson. and i think as i get a little for clumped and i think about him as one of the truly greats in the words of the poet stephen spender he was born of the sun. he traveled a short while to the sun. but he left the vivid air signed with his honor. wow, man, i think that's such a
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great way to end our part of the discussion. this has been you know we've spoken for an hour we could go for another two hours, but this has been a great peter and joe what we're gonna do we have time to fly to take about three questions. so i'm going to read the questions from the audience has been very very patient and hopefully captivated and you could take you could take turns taking this so 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 take that and yeah. robinson was was not a friendly guy. it was not somebody who pelled around he had rachel for that. so for instance peewee and duke and the couple of the other guys might carpool to the games. jackie was not part of that group.
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um, that's the beauty of baseball. you don't have to be bosom buddies to be a great, you know shortstop second base combination. you don't even have to like each other. you just have to play well together. right. so jackie jackie was not somebody. went out of his way to make friends. that's not who jackie was. mmm uh joe, yes, this is from linda and vick. with the dodgers have stayed if moses had agreed on a stadium at the la 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 the pete hamill had a great anecdote if you have
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these three men these three evil men in the same room and you have a gun with two bullets. who do you shoot? and the answer is you should o'malley twice. the idea of you know, the revisionist historians are trying to take the blame of o'malley. and it's true. moses who sometimes confuse himself with the biblical moses was responsible for demanding that they take the property now occupied by city field because it was one of the the bad decisions of moses to run two worlds fairs at that location
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and o'malley said quite correctly. how can we call them? the brooklyn dodgers that they play in queens? well, 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 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 ape stark hit sign when when suit billboard that has the parks demolition. no. no. hey, they that place up with a are the giant? sure, actually call ferrillo was so adept and right field that the sign had no value whatsoever. even when it was up.
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that's true. here's 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 was trump's doing this all had to do with trump and his his rotten politics. i still can't understand how copernic who is such a such a talented ball player is not back in the nfl except for everybody's fear of donald trump. it was disgusting absolutely disgusting. i totally agree and it's if you look at the continuity it was jackie robinson who in at the new york times forum that was on wqxr in 1953.
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jackie robinson 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. a service. he said why he said we don't serve -- here and they used a different version of --. and he says that's cool because i don't eat -- and because of his uppity manner and because of the he caught by the way, he also caught with one hand which traditional first baseman strategy or usage, but you know in those days you've got to
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catch with two hands. well, he was the best according to bill scholar and the best person to cover first base playing a deep first base almost in the middle of between first and second. no one could get to the base faster than big power, but the yankees decided that he wasn't yankee material. so what did they do? they traded him to the philadelphia athletics and then when they got elston howard who was brilliant player could play the outfield and catcher. what does casey stengel said say, he said well, we finally got any use the m word and he's the only one who can't 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.
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but jackie as a answer to the question jackie called out the yankee administration, he would he would have called out nixon and he would have called out all these tycoons, but his the kicker or is the deal to call joe biden's favorite phrase when robert kraft with whom i went to college many years ago. i apologize for that. i apologize to 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 nick and and sorry for 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
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want to commend peter golombach. 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 caesar peter golombach, you know that and that note. what a great. what a great note to end this conversation with what wonderful the great great. take down hail caesar just so so eloquent man. this has been such a great hour peter. thank you so much. it's been honor joe. thank you so much been honor honor and online bill. it's all mine. you guys having you as our leader? proves that blacks could be quarterbacks. thank you. all right. that was that was really good listening.
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i would say that with some good listening. it was brilliant conversation wonderful and deepest. thanks to you all and i want to say to everybody who's here still the 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 the the next one which happens in the first week of may. i hope that you'll all join us for this is a look at our it's called marching towards brooklyn's march towards civil rights, and it's looking at some of our really important civil rights related collections, including the core collection brooklyn core congress of racially quality the youth and action bed style youth and action and we have two extraordinary historians brian pernell dr. brian pernell who wrote finding jim crow in the
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county of kings and mike woodsworth who wrote battle for beds die the long war on poverty in new york city. i hope you'll join us for that program, and i hope you'll join us for for some of the other programs that bpl presents is offering, but mostly i want to say thanks so much to the three of you for a truly unforgettable conversation. i think it is. it's just one one for the record books.
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