Daily Archives: February 8, 2014

The Long and Slow Integration of the Major Leagues: A Reflection on Desegregation and Spring Training

Friends of Padre Steve’s World. Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training as they always do this time of year, by the end of the week the rest of the players will report. This year American and Canadian players, white, black, hispanic and asian will report, along with men from other nations, men who speak different languages, hail from different cultures and are of races that in 1946 would have not been allowed at Spring Training. It is hard to believe now, but in 1947 when Branch Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers minor league camp. In 1948 when Robinson reported he was being groomed by Rickey to be the first African American to play in the Major Leagues. That was a major step, but it took years before every team in the Major Leagues integrated despite a plethora of talent in the Negro Leagues and coming up in the integrated Minor Leagues. The last team to integrate was the Boston Red Sox, whose first Black player, Shortstop Pumpsie Green did not debut until July of 1959. During those eleven intervening years Jim Crow still ruled the South, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the Bus, young Emmett Till was brutally murdered, President Eisenhower sent in Federal Troops to Little rock to intervene and help the nine African American High School students entering the formerly all-white Central High School. Martin Luther King Jr, Charles Steele and Fred Shuttlesworth established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which brought organization and an ethic of non-violence in civil disobedience protests against segregation, discrimination and Jim Crow laws. But the tide was turning and the men who integrated the Major Leagues did much to speed the process of destroying Jim Crow, and promoting civil rights, not just for African Americans, but for all Americans. Of course there is still much to do, racism and discrimination still exist. That being said, I am always amazed when I meet the pioneers of the Negro Leagues who dis so much to break the color barrier in Baseball and in society at large. Peace, Padre Steve+

The Inglorius Padre Steve's World


John Jorgensen, Pee Wee Reese, Ed Stanky and Jackie Robinson on opening day 1947

“Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote the Declaration, made proper provision for baseball when he declared that ‘all men are, and of right out to be, free and equal.’ That’s why they are at the ball game, banker and bricklayer, lawyer and common laborer.” – Baseball magazine (1921)

“Baseball should be taken seriously by the colored player — and in this effort of his great ability will open the avenue in the near future wherein he may walk hand in hand with the opposite race in the greatest of all American games — baseball.” Ossie Davis


Charles Thomas 

It was in 1903 when Branch Rickey, then a coach for the Ohio Wesleyan University baseball team had to console his star player, Charles Thomas when a hotel in South Bend Indiana refused him a room because he was…

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