Unfortunately, for a very long time, white
wasn’t confined to chalk lines and ball.
Segregation umpired. About eight years
after women were permitted a professional team,
Moses Fleetwood (“Fleet”) Walker,
catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings, went up
against the Chicago White Stockings,
whose star player refused to take the field
against a “man of color.” That game was played
in 1883, the Negro National League
founded in the 1920’s. Segregation played on,
with the exception of games on military ships,
until Jackie Robinson played it out
at Ebbets Field wtih the Brooklyn Dodgers
and broke the “color barrier.”
He was fielded by Pee Wee Reese and Branch Rickey.
(Mr. Rickey also drafted Roberto Clemente,
the first Hispanic superstar,
who died in a plane crash
on his way to help Nicaraguan earthquake victims.)
Before Robinson, no Black man had been
on the field with Whites in a Major League battle,
only in “Barnstorming Exhibition Games.”
Forth they came: men of the ilk
of Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige,
Josh Gibson (the “Black Babe Ruth”).
Walter Fenner (“Buck”) Leonard became
the “Black Lou Gehrig.”
No one will strike them out again.