By In Baseball, History

The Integration Timeline

Over at SportsWorld, I have a piece up about one of baseball’s most overlooked legends, Luscious Luke Easter, who brought some of the Negro Leagues legends to life for white audiences. Go over and read that if you can; it’s one of my favorite pieces of late.

But the point here is this: Luscious Luke Easter was the 11th black player in Major League Baseball’s modern era. And, as I touch on in the piece, he’s a good reminder that the great integration story of baseball is often oversimplified.

In June of 1949, Luke Easter was called back from San Diego to Cleveland in order to have a knee operation. Now, think of it — June of 1949 is more than two years after Jackie Robinson “integrated” baseball; and I think you’ll see in a minute why I put “integrated” in quotations marks. The Robinson story cannot be told enough; it’s a story of courage and conviction and how hard it is to overturn injustice. But it isn’t the only story.

Two months after Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers, Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League. Unlike Robinson, though, he was not an instant success and he only started one game all season. Here’s a trivia answer for you: Everyone knows Larry Doby was the second African American in modern baseball, but did you know he was actually the FOURTH to hit a home run, after Robinson, Willard Brown and Dan Bankhead.

Two weeks after Doby, two African American players — Hank Thompson (who would go on to become a superb player for the New York Giants) and the aforementioned Brown (who would be elected to the Hall of Fame as a Negro Leaguer) — were called up to the St. Louis Browns in what was mostly a publicity stunt. It was a disaster on all fronts. The players each lasted barely three weeks.

In August of that year, a fine Negro Leaguer named Dan Bankhead became the first African American to pitch in the big leagues. Bankhead was from Alabama and, his son once told me, he was absolutely scared to death that he was going to hit a white player with a pitch and spark a riot. Had he come up a decade later, it is possible that he would have been an excellent big league pitcher. But he did not have the soul of a pioneer. His first game, Bankhead entered in the second inning with two runners on and his Dodgers already trailing 4-0 to the Pirates. He gave up a double, a sac fiy, a single and another double to allow four runs to score.

After a 1-2-3 inning in the third, the nightmare happened in the fourth: He plunked Wally Westlake. He seemed utterly frozen by this and the next inning he gave up a triple, a single to opposing pitcher Fritz Ostermueller and a home run to Billy Cox. He was banged around a little bit more and was yanked before the end of the inning — the total damage was 10 hits and 8 runs in 3 1/3 innings. Bankhead did become just the third pitcher in the modern era to homer in his first at-bat. But I suspect that provided little comfort. He did have a nice outing in September against the Giants — four innings without allowing a run — but he was sent back to the minors. He reemerged with limited success in 1950 and 1951.

The larger point is this: After the 1947 season, the question of whether black players could handle the pressures and quality of Major League Baseball was still very much an open one. Robinson’s brilliance was irrefutable but the other four had failed in varying degrees. Doby hit just .156 in 29 games. Thompson and Brown were released. Bankhead was overmatched. There was no great rush by other teams to sign black players. In 1948, the Red Sox were supposedly alerted about an extraordinary 17-year-old outfielder playing for the Birmingham Black Barons and decided to pass on Willie Mays. The Yankees did show some interest in Birmingham’s brilliant shortstop Artie Wilson but did not follow through. The Negro Leagues was loaded with young talent, players who would yet make an impact on the big leagues like Elston Howard and Connie Johnson and Toothpick Sam Jones and Junior Gilliam and Joe Black and so on. It would be a while before they would get the call.

In fact, only two black players made the big leagues in 1948 — one was already a legend, Satchel Paige, and the other was a promising catcher named Roy Campanella.

One black player — Minnie Minoso — was called up at the beginning of the 1949 season. And he was promptly sent back down.

So, back to Easter: When he was called back to Cleveland there were FOUR black players in Major League baseball. That’s all: Robinson and Campanella on the Dodgers; Doby and Paige on the Indians. Those were the only two integrated teams. The Giants, who would play a big role in baseball’s integration story, had not yet called up Monte Irvin. The White Sox, who would also play a major role, would not have its first black player for another two years. The Cardinals would not have a black player for five more years; the Yankees waited a year after that. It would be a decade before the Red Sox finally played a black player.

It is compelling to look at the list year by year. I list off the first 12 black players in modern day baseball, which takes us all the way through the 1951 season. Yep: Four years, 12 players. That’s the trickle of baseball integration. After 1951, things began to pick up speed and I only list off select players. You will note, though, that Pumpsie Green — the first black player on the Red Sox — was the 115th black player in the Majors, and he came after all-time greats Robinson, Campanella, Mays, Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson.

The fact that Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey — who tried to singlehandedly hold back progress and justice while his team fell apart on the field — is in the Baseball Hall of Fame is a disgrace that makes all this talk about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens seem laughable.

1947 (5 players)

1. Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn, April 15)

2. Larry Doby (Cleveland, July 5)

3. Hank Thompson (St. Louis Browns, July 17)

4. Willard Brown (St. Louis Browns, July 19)

5. Dan Bankhead (Brooklyn, August 26, 1947)

1948 (2 players)

6. Roy Campanella (Brooklyn, April 20)

7. Satchel Paige (Cleveland, July 8)

1949 (4 players)

8. Minnie Minoso (Cleveland, April 19)

9. Don Newcombe (Brooklyn, May 20)

10. Monte Irvin (New York Giants, July 8)

11. Luke Easter (Cleveland, August 11)

1950 (1 player)

12. Sam Jethroe (Boston Braves, April 18)

1951 (8 players)

— White Sox integrate with Minoso, who had already debuted with Cleveland.

17. Willie Mays (New York Giants)

1952 (7 players)

22. George Crowe (Boston Braves)

23. Buster Clarkson (Boston Braves)

— I mention these two because the Braves were among the early teams embracing change and fair play and it was in the same town of Yawkey and the Red Sox. The idea that Boston at the time would not have accepted black players is something you something hear and it’s a copout. Boston would have happily embraced Willie Mays.

25. Joe Black (Brooklyn)

1953 (10 players)

31. Connie Johnson (White Sox)

34. Carlos Bernier (Pittsburgh)

— Bernier was a dark-skinned player from Puerto Rico but for some reason Major League Baseball recognizes Curt Roberts (who debuted in 1954) as the first black player in Pirates history. Bernier played in the Canadian Negro Leagues for a time and it is unclear why baseball does not recognize him as the man who broke the color barrier in Pittsburgh.

36. Bob Trice (Athletics)

37. Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs)

— It was at the end of the 1953 and the beginning of the 1954 season that most teams around baseball finally started to integrated. Trice and Banks were pioneers for their teams and cities.

1954 (14 players)

39. Henry Aaron (Braves)

40. Tom Alston (St. Louis Cardinals)

— First for the Cardinals.

42. Curt Roberts (Pittsburgh)

— Acknowledged by MLB as first for Pirates.

43. Nino Escalara (Cincinnati)

44. Chuck Harmon (Cincinnati)

— Escalara and Harmon broke through for Reds in the same game.

47. Jehosie Heard (Baltimore)

— Technically, Hank Thompson was the first black player in the organization when he joined the St. Louis Browns but Heard was the first black player in Baltimore.

51. Carlos Paula (Washington)

— First for the Senators. It would be seven years before the Washington Football Club would have its first black player. Of course, Washington owner and self-avowed racist George Preston Marshall is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but there’s a difference there; the Pro Football Hall of Fame doesn’t pretend to be about something larger than football. Marshall’s teams won championships and he played a big role in the growth of football. Yawkey’s team won nothing and his Hall of Fame plaque lamely credits him only with being “rated one of the sport’s finest benefactors,” whatever that means, and being the first in the American League to have his team travel by plane. You are really grasping when you are crediting a baseball owner for plane travel.

1955 (13 players)

54. Elston Howard (New York Yankees)

— First for the Yankees.

56. Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh)

1956 (13 players)

68. Frank Robinson (Cincinnati)

71. Bill White (New York Giants)

75. Curt Flood (Cincinnati)

1957 (9 players)

83. John Kennedy (Philadelphia)

— First for Phillies

1958 (17 players)

Ozzie Virgil, who had debuted earlier, became the first black player for Detroit. 

88. Orlando Cepeda (Giants)

91. Vada Pinson (Cincinnati)

94. Mudcat Grant (Cleveland)

96. Felipe Alou (Giants)

1959 (17 players)

106. Bob Gibson (St. Louis)

107. Mike Cuellar (Cincinnati)

111. Maury Wills (Dodgers)

115. Pumpsie Green (Boston Red Sox)

— Finally. 

117. Willie McCovey (Giants)

119. Billy Williams (Cubs)

121. Tommy Davis (Dodgers)

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40 Responses to The Integration Timeline

  1. Michael Green says:

    Fascinating to ponder, especially when you add in that the St. Louis Cardinals were prepared to go on strike over Robinson.

    In addition to Yawkey, remember that his longtime general manager was Joe Cronin … who later called up Emmett Ashford to be the first African American major league umpire–and the umpiring supervisor, Cal Hubbard, was from Missouri, which wasn’t necessarily a bastion of enlightenment on these issues, either. One wonders how much Cronin contributed to or argued over Yawkey’s views.

    As for Doby, remember that he had been a middle infielder. The Indians teammate who most quickly accepted him was Joe Gordon, who played second. And then Doby worked on transitioning to the outfield with Tris Speaker, who, according to some rumors, had belonged to the KKK. It’s a complex world, eh?

  2. wordyduke says:

    This is a wonderful reminder (and lesson to the youngsters). Small point: I believe Monte Irvin was with the Giants when Luke Easter debuted, making him #5 (active on August 11, 1949). (Irvin’s gamelog shows he played his 16th ML game on August 10, 1949.)

    Related topic, from your reminder that the Dodgers and Indians (and Giants, to a lesser extent) were alone as pioneers for years. That gave those clubs an advantage that showed during the 1950’s, but it also created a problem (at least in Cleveland). As you know, it was believed (note the passive voice) that having too many black players on a team would hurt attendance (which was falling anyway, thanks to television). In 1951 the Indians used as regulars Larry Doby, Luke Easter, and Harry Simpson (along with Roberto Alomar, one of the earliest Latin stars), and before the season ended, Toothpick Sam Jones took the mound So keeping Orestes Minoso, who had been ready to play in the majors at least two years earlier (.297 and .339 in tough AAA), was a problem on racial grounds. Good for the White Sox. Terrible for the 1950’s Indians.

    • Brett Alan says:

      If Roberto Alomar really had played in 1951, I’d feel a lot better about his performance for the Mets in 2002-03. B^)

      For the record, you must have meant Roberto “Bobby” Avila.

      As long as I’m commenting…the Easter piece is indeed terrific.

  3. MikeN says:

    Like Boston embraced Bill Russell.

    • NevadaMark says:

      Zing! The Celts had trouble selling out playoff games while Russell was there. The Bruins beat them in attendance every year, despite being the dregs of the NHL.

      • Bobbl says:

        Boston is a Hockey Town and Basketball was its No. 3 Sport in the 60s. The Bruins drew 13,909 for every game in the Garden, not because Bill Russell played for the Celtics, but because Boston has/had schoolboy Hockey and the Bruins ruled at that time!!

  4. My interest in MLB waned in about 1970, but I avidly collected and traded baseball cards prior to that. I recognize and remember names like Mays, Banks, Aaron, Clemente, Robinson, Flood, Cepeda, Alou, Gibson, and Wills from that hobby (and the occasional televised game). I’m sitting here amazed right now to learn that these men were the first to break the racial barriers for their teams. How could I not have known that? I was born in 1958, but jeeze, I majored in history in college. Somehow I figured that baseball integration was more of a 1940’s thing than a ’60’s thing.

    Thanks, Joe.

  5. invitro says:

    Yawkey’s presence in the HoF has nothing to do with Bonds or Clemens.

    • NevadaMark says:

      Is cheating to gain a competitive advantage worse than segregating a team by skin color?

      • invitro says:

        That’s an interesting question, but I’d need to know more about the extent of segregation and attitudes about it in the 1950’s to answer. I’d also need to know if Yawkey did enough good things to offset the bad of segregation, and how responsible Cronin and perhaps Collins are.

        It doesn’t matter, though. Joe is using the old argument “he’s not as bad as the worst person in there.” This argument has never held water, and it’s even worse as it implies that Bonds/Clemens are being held out for moral deficiencies rather than professional ones.

        • I agree. Each HOF argument stands on its own. Whether Ty Cobb is a stain on the HOF because of his racism or whether Tom Yawkey didn’t contribute anything much AND was a racist, or whether High Pockets Kelly doesn’t stand up to current scrutiny has nothing to do with Clemens or Bonds. Kelly and Yawkey got in for whatever reasons, as poor as they may have been, at the time they were elected. Cobb got in on his merits during the pre-Civil Rights era when his views may not have been all that unusual. At any rate, there isn’t any big clamor to remove any of them from the Hall.

          The question should always be about NOW. Do Bonds & Clemens deserve to be in the HOF given the allegations (and more than allegations) about their steroid use? That’s the question at hand. If we use High Pockets Kelly and Yawkey as our current standards, the HOF will need to build a new wing to accommodate the influx.

          Racism this, pine tar that, corked bats here, mediocre inductees there don’t matter.

          People need to argue Bonds/Clemens on THEIR merits, not based on borderline calls, or even egregious calls from the past.

          • NevadaMark says:

            But aren’t all potential HOFers judged, at least in part, in a historical context? Not saying I disagree with your conclusion but you may be asking too much of human nature.

          • NevadaMark: yes, I am asking too much of human nature. People are naturally illogical, which is a constant challenge for me. People can make the argument that steroids were prevalent & too tough to sort out who was & who wasn’t, or that steroids didn’t make a difference, or whatever. I’d disagree pretty strongly, based on some pretty compelling facts, but at least the argument is on topic.

            When the argument wanders to comparisons vs. racists in the HOF, players being illegitimate HOFers because they played before 1947, bad guys who are in the HOF, mediocre inductees, etc. It’s just off topic, illogical and ridiculous. The question at hand, beyond the morals clause, is whether the performance we were watching from Clemens and Bonds was greatly improved by modern pharmacology. Or, in fact, greatly enhanced. If so, how much was legitimate and how much was greatly enhanced. That’s the question at hand. The best argument, as I see it, is the possibility that there was a HOF worthy body of work from BEFORE they started using. If so, then maybe you can disregard all or most of their post steroids careers and still consider them worthy.

            So, I reject that idea that the whole argument against them is just the morality police running wild. Morals is a legitimate element, but the greater question is whether their stats would have been HOF worthy had they not used. Nobody is saying they should be jailed, beaten or snubbed by the world. The question is whether they are worthy for the high honor of the HOF. It’s a high bar. So, these actions should be scrutinized heavily, and not just tossed off as “everyone was doing it” or “other guys were just as bad, or worse, in the past”. That argument doesn’t even work for my teenage sons. Applying it to grown men is embarrassing and illogical.

          • David says:

            I do believe that a lot of the backlash against Bonds and Clemens is that they were not likable people. I really wonder if they would be in, or at least gaining momentum if they had been more personable as players.

      • Richard says:

        NO it isn’t

      • Marc Schneider says:

        That’s not really the point. The fact that Yawkey doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame is a separate issue of whether Bonds and Clemens do. (Although I think they do.) There are lots of players in the Hall that shouldn’t be there but that doesn’t mean that someone else should be in. Just because I’m not a murderer doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go to jail for embezzlement.

    • DjangoZ says:

      I agree, it stood out to me like a sore thumb when reading the post, but Joe likes to make excuses for Bonds and Clemens and the PED crew whenever he has a chance. That, the Negro Leagues and Pixar are the three defining topics of his authorship.

      Come to think of it, he could write about Pixar movies and find a way to work in the line, “Of course, baseball players used greenies in the 50s so the outrage at PEDs in the 90s is pretty ridiculous.”

      Course the Pixar column as a whole would still be excellent, as is this one, it would just have that little dig in the middle of it. 🙂

  6. MikeN says:

    So should we throw out Charles Comiskey, Ban Johnson, and others?

  7. Paco says:

    Agreed with invitro that Bonds and Clemens are irrelevant. Why dilute your valid point about Yawkey by bringing them up? “He did something worse” ought to be the refuge of 3rd graders on the playground, not intelligent adults.

    • DjangoZ says:

      Joe isn’t exactly rational when it comes to this topic.

      • Mike says:

        Very ironic to read this. Yes, Joe may reach for a steroid comment from time-to-time. We all have our thing.

        But anytime Joe does this, I KNOW well before finishing the post that Django, Invitro, and Bellweather will hijack the comment thread, blazing from all barrels with their scolding attacks on Joe’s character and writing. Simply because they disagree with what they deem his insufficiently moralizing stance. I can set my watch to it.

        Rational? With these three just substitute “ra” with “emo” and we may have something here.

  8. John Leavy says:

    Geez… Joe just can’t help himself. Here he has a solid topic, an underreported topic, a topic that should make all of us stop and reflect. Joe is absolutely right- integration was NOT a sure thing. It was by no means obvious in 1947 (or even 1951) that baseball’s Noble Experiment would succeed. Joe just wrote a very necessary column on a subject of great importance, and he started out magnificently.

    And then he had to undercut his own piece by (AGAIN!!!!!) making taking a detour to make excuses for steroid users!

    Joe, I know I’m nobody to you and my opinion probably means less than nothing to you, but I’ve tried to tell you many times: STOP talking about steroids. This is a subject on which you have ZERO credibility.

    When steroid abuse was at its worst in baseball, you either ignored it or failed to see what was right under your nose. Unforgivable.

    When your equally lazy and/or clueless colleagues started tentatively writing about steroids, you downplayed the issue, insisting that offensive numbers only SEEMED to be inflated… or that the “real” culprit was juiced balls. Unforgivable.

    Even after it was proven that steroids were both widespread and very effective, you continued to suggest that, well, maybe steroids weren’t REALLY as widespread as all that… and maybe they didn’t REALLY hep all that much… and besides, Willie Mays used greenies, didn’t he?


    You have been wrong, repeatedly wrong, and loudly wrong on this issue from Day One, and you still don’t seem to have learned a thing.

    STOP talking about steroids. Please. You ruined what COULD have been a great column by dragging the subject in where it didn’t belong.

    Look in the mirror, and tell yourself as often as you need to, “I’ve got NOTHING useful to contribute on the subject of steroids. I will clam up about it forever.”

    Then go back to writing the genuinely brilliant, touching stuff we expect from you.

    By the way, Joe, you need to read (re-read?) this. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself:

    • I think where I agree the most is that it was patently obvious to anyone with a brain, by 1988 at least, that Canseco was using. We were chanting “STER-OIDS” at the guy at Anaheim Stadium in 1987 or 1988, I forget which. That goes along with the other steroids chants, during that same time, that the article discusses going on at other stadiums. So, you can’t tell me that sportswriters suddenly started noticing in 1998. Were they all sitting behind three inch glass wearing earplugs? Was their eye sight so poor that they couldn’t see what Canseco looked like?

      Then, a bunch of other guys suddenly start to get big and it’s attributed to weight lifting? Really?

      This idea that …. gee, we never knew… that I hear is really just a bunch of BS. I agree with the premise of the article that you had to have a pair of balls to report on it in those days. Most just didn’t have them. So, it’s easier to pretend you didn’t notice rather than admit that you had a pair of bb’s instead of some brass ones.

    • ceolaf says:


      Don’t worry about these naysayers.

      You are right. There is a character clause in the baseball HOF voting guidelines. That where racism and perpetuation of segregation enter the discussion.

      You are right. There is a character clause in the HOF voting guidelines. That is the same place that where cheating and steroid use enter the discussion.

      You are right. We must — particuarly HOF voters — must figure out what to make of the character clause, the meaning of past precedent and what sort of threshold the character clause call for.

      You are credible in these discussions because you are thougthful and open-minded about what the HOF meand and what goes into deciding to vote for a player’s induction.

      Furthermore, you are right that we still don’t know enough about the relative impact of juice balls, juiced stadiums, juiced strike zones and juices players on offensive explosion. We have growing evidence on the impact of steroid on player longevity, but it is virtually all cicumstancial.

      You are right that the potenital enshrinement of the best position player in baseball since Ruth and (perhaps) the best pitcher ever is a topic that looms over all disussion of the HOF and HOF enshrinees. You are right not to ignore it, but to acknowledge the shadow it casts in the content of the topic at hand.

      Keep up the brilliant work. Don’t avoid or ignore the issue of steriods in baseball.

      • So, are you saying then, that since other bad guys are in the HOF, Clemens & Bonds are OK? All bad acts are equal & one bad act legitimizes any other? And further, that we really just don’t know if steroids help? If so, then how do you feel about Brett Boone and Sammy Sosa? Legit careers? Or would you say that maybe Sammy Sosa wouldn’t have had three 60 HR seasons if he didn’t use? And Boone may not have been a .900 OPS guy without using (and would have been like the .750 OPS guy he was in his 20s)? I think tossing it all off to “oh, who the hell knows if it helped” is a pretty non intellectual argument. That just means you don’t want to parse out how much it helped & are just throwing up your arms.

      • wordyduke says:

        I would thumbs up ceolaf if I could.

  9. chriswertz says:

    I appreciate a Liberty Valence story as much as the next baseball fan. So I have no problem with the improbable yarns being repeated over and over for the sake of both entertainment and to remind us that there was a time when the sport was sparsely recorded save for the memories of the fans.

    But I can’t fathom how you fail to understand that your repeated branding of the Browns’ Jeff Heath as a racist with a completely made-up story about Willard Brown (who was in the league more than 3 weeks btw – nearly a month, would have been more accurate) isn’t the most ignorant remark on the page. Of all people you should understand how serious this charge is and that it should not be so easily attached to the legacy of a man who cannot defend himself.

    You’ve said before that Jeff Heath was so upset that Willard Brown hit his only home run with his bat that he broke it (obviously out of racism). Yet you don’t understand and haven’t looked up he facts of the day. Just look them up. If you still believe it, fine, repeat it. But please do the research. And if you can’t substantiate your claim, say sorry to Heath’s family.

    First of all, the Browns signed 4 black players in 1947 – two to the Majors and two to the Minors. It’s hard to understand if it was wholly done as a publicity stunt. They seemed to be interested in reversing their fortunes too.

    Back to Heath…When Brown and Thompson were signed, Heath was among three men assigned by the manager Muddy Ruel to introduce them to the team, to make sure they didn’t get any trouble. Heath knew Brown already because the toured together the previous season as members of the Paige v Feller All-Star Rock and Roll Circus.

    The “home run” Brown hit was an inside-the-park home run. The only balls he hit in the Majors seemed to be dead center bombs that were either outs or doubles. This one caught the wall at the 426 mark and took a turn, giving Brown a chance to round the bases. That plated two runs and tied the game in the eighth. The bench erupted. You see, the Browns never had rallies and they really enjoyed this one. Thompson batted next, earning a walk, stealing second and then taking third before scoring the winning run on a passed ball (Let’s call it an Ichiro home run).

    Jeff Heath did not break his bat in disgust. He took the field at the top of the inning and prepared to bat in the 9th (because the Browns usually blew leads).

    Where’d this story come from? Brown (like Robinson (and Feller!)) changed a lot of details of his earlier experiences in baseball later in life. Not surprisingly, his tone became more bitter, but the facts didn’t always line-up. That being said I haven’t found him tell this story. I did find a quote from you of Buck O’Neil telling this story second hand. Unfortunately that story has been repeated quite a bit and never faithfully.

    -The other two players signed by the Browns in 1947 were Piper Davis and Chuck Harmon who 7 years later became the first black player for the Reds.

    • I don’t know the real facts, but the problem with oral histories is that the facts do tend to migrate & be misremembered as the years go by. I can think of several stories that I used to tell about baseball, and with the help of BBR, I’ve gone back to verify. In almost every instance, there was some element of truth in my recollection, but as a whole, the current version of the story was just false. Sometimes what I said happened was accurate, but the player who did it was someone else. Sometimes what happened was close to accurate, but was not as remembered. Sometimes I combined two different stories together accidentally. This is the biggest concern in this story. Something may have happened, but it may have been someone else. Or maybe Heath did something racist to him, but it had nothing to do with breaking a bat. It would seem that someone wouldn’t misremember something like a blatantly racist act, and I’m positive that Brown was subject to racism, but you can’t take these oral histories as fact. You just can’t unless there is a lot of verification to go with it.

  10. MikeN says:

    Joe, you’re so upset about the steroids. I have some advice for you. Stop writing about, and wait until Ortiz fails to get voted in his first few ballots. Then public opinion will shift.

  11. The Warezwolf says:

    I haven’t quite finished all my research, but it appears that the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t integrate until 1977. =(

  12. Marco says:

    I shouldn’t speak for Joe, but I don’t think the argument is “he did something worse”.

    I think Joe’s point was not to compare the two but a comment on “selective moralization”.

  13. Justin Mckinney says:

    I just finished reading Rick Swaine’s impossibly thorough The Integration of Major League Baseball, which explores the integration of each team from 1947 to 1959. Swaine does a remarkable job exploring not only the integration of each team at the major league level, but also at an organizational level as well. For every Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, there was a Angel Scull or a Sammy Gee, who never made it to the majors. It’s fascinating to consider the well-known triumphs, but also the sad stories of players like Gene Baker, who was kept in the minors for several years, where he thrived in the PCL, while the Cubs kept trotting out Roy Smalley, who was probably the worst player in baseball at the time. Stories like these point to the spitefulness of racism, where a team chooses to harm be terrible, rather than provide an opportunity to a black player who is a clear improvement.

    The other thing that struck me about the book was how pragmatic some of the integration decisions were. For instance, the Dodgers had a much easier path to integration due to the locales of their minor league clubs in Quebec, where racism was less of a frontline issue. If they did not have teams in Canada, they might not have integrated so readily. The minor leagues had to integrate as well. Teams that had their farm teams in the deep south, were not able to integrate due to the far reaching impact of Jim Crow. When you consider that the AA Southern Association was completely segregated (save for 2 games in 1954 by Nat Peeples) from 1946 to 1961 when it disbanded, you realize that integration was not a simple process. This fact was fascinating to consider, as it wasn’t always mere organizational racism that was an obstacle, it was often logistics that determined the course that teams took towards integration.

    It’s also pretty interesting to note that although the Dodgers took an early lead in integrating baseball, by the early to mid-1950’s they had more or less stopped bringing black players into their system, so after the influx of the core players that made up their dynasty, they sort of lagged behind for several years, while other teams caught up. It’s frightening to think of what the Dodgers could have done had they continued to push the pace of integration.

  14. Herby Smith says:

    Of COURSE Clemens would be in the Hall had they been likable. Think of how quickly everyone forgave Andy Pettitte. Or Jason Giambi. Think of how beloved Big Papi still is.
    None of those fellows put up slam-dunk HOF numbers, but Ripken, Rickey and Nolan Ryan did.
    It’s obvious that popularity plays a huge part of the HOF process (see the #37 Eddie Mathews column).

    Would the starched collar moralists on this commenting area please shut the hell up?

    It’s fine that you prefer a game that only includes choirboys, and occasionally your wishes are granted in the form of Ernie Banks, Dale Murphy, Mike Trout, etc. Cool…I Iove those guys.

    But I’ll take the Babe Ruths, Ty Cobbs, Hornsbys, Splinters, Bretts, Bonds and Bryce Harper types, any day.

  15. […] More links: 5) This is an article about the unusual career of slugger Luke Easter: Invisible man | NBC SportsWorld 6) These are two articles about Bill Veeck’s reported attempt to purchase the Phillies:…e_Phillies.pdf…Journal-35.pdf 7) This article is about the pace at which major league teams integrated: The Integration Timeline | Joe Posnanski […]

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