Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spring Training and Jim Crow

The Upshot has an interesting piece about the battle over segregation during spring training after the Dodgers broke baseball's color line.  I didn't realize that is why the Dodgers established Dodgertown:
By 1948, with Robinson a full-fledged Brooklyn Dodger, Rickey and a fellow part-owner of the team, Walter O’Malley, opted to confront the spring training problem head-on by taking over a decommissioned naval air station in sleepy Vero Beach, Fla., which soon became a national baseball landmark called Dodgertown.
Although Robinson found Dodgertown “like being confined to a reservation,” the camp, with its own barracks and dining halls, would liberate the team from Jim Crow. Players called their new baseball diamonds “Ebbets Field No. 2.”
But Dodgertown itself could not solve the larger problem of racial separation in the Grapefruit League. More than a decade after Robinson joined the Dodgers, black players for other teams were still shunned by many Florida hotels and restaurants. African-American spectators in West Palm Beach were forced to enter the baseball park by slipping through a gap in the stadium fence.
Decrying “Spring Training Woes,” Wendell Smith wrote in Chicago’s American in 1961 that the black player’s “patience is growing short.”
Robinson had long called for economic pressure against Grapefruit League team owners who resisted change, and spurred on in part by the N.A.A.C.P., the Cardinals’ owner, Anheuser-Busch, struck a housing deal in 1961 to move all of its players into two adjacent motels for spring training in 1962; other teams were not far behind in integrating.
They had to put up with that shit for almost 16 years after Jackie Robinson's first appearance at spring training in 1946?  That is insane. It is hard to believe that was going on only a dozen years before I was born. The south is such a disgrace to the United States of America. 

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