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Friday, April 15, 2022

The Complicated Legacy of Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers Debut

On Opening Day of the ’47 Negro Leagues season, Newark set an attendance record of 12,552 fans. This was still more than two months before Larry Doby left to join Cleveland’s MLB team, becoming the first Black player in the American League, so the core of Manley’s championship roster was still there. But the early fan support was a false positive. As the season wore on, the enthusiasm for the Eagles wore off, and fans no longer cared as much about Doby or Monte Irvin or Max Manning. They wanted to see Robinson—the man who had become the Great Black Hope, the man who would prove Black worthiness with his bat and glove.

By fall, even after a strong follow-up season, Newark’s numbers were bleak. Opening Day’s record attendance aside, the Eagles managed only 57,100 ticket sales over the season, a 53% drop from 1946’s total of 120,293. And they weren’t alone in their misfortune. Up and down the Eastern seaboard, fans with the option of seeing Robinson and the Dodgers or one of the all-Black major league teams of the Negro National League were choosing the former. In ‘48, after another year of hemorrhaging, the Manleys decided to sell their team. With the New York Black Yankees and Homestead Grays also departing the NNL, the once-thriving organization was forced to fold, and its remaining few teams were absorbed by the Midwest’s Negro American League.

It was the worst-case scenario for Black baseball and a sure loss for the community at large—even as they celebrated the win of Robinson’s debut, even if the total fallout was yet unknown. Manley’s departing words, published on Sept. 21, 1948, in the New York Age conveyed as much. “Baseball is a rich man’s game,” she said. “Ruppert had his beer, Wrigley had his gum, Abe and I have only each other. I am not worried about myself, but I am concerned about the 400 men and their families who depend on the Negro Leagues.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 15, 2022 at 11:21 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jackie robinson, negro leagues

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hardball Talk: Harrison Ford to play Branch Rickey in Jackie Robinson biopic

According to Spencer Fordin of MLB.com, Legendary Pictures announced yesterday that Harrison Ford will play Hall of Fame Dodgers’ executive Branch Rickey in a biopic about Jackie Robinson.

Many prominent actors have been mentioned for the role of Rickey over the years, including Robert Redford this past April, but Ford was apparently their top choice. His work in “Cowboys and Aliens” probably put him over the top.

As for Robinson, he’ll be played by the relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman. The 27-year-old has appeared in television shows such as “Lincoln Heights” and NBC’s “Persons Unknown.”

The film, which is appropriated titled “42,” is being written and directed by Brian Helgeland of “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River” renown.

Shia LaBeouf will play Branch Rickey’s son who takes over the movie for no reason.

Tripon Posted: December 10, 2011 at 08:41 PM | 110 comment(s)
  Beats: business, dodgers, history, media, mets, negro leagues, special topics, television, yankees

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Media Res: Mediating Baseball

In Media Res is a weekly online publication about different roles media play in culture; they take up a different theme each week—this week is Mediating Baseball!

Mediating Baseball [October 24-28, 2011]

Monday October 24, 2011 – Elizabeth Rawitsch (University of East Anglia) presents: Melting Pot or Multiculturalism? Mediating Ethnicity in Baseball

Tuesday October 25, 2011 –  Pellom McDaniels III (University of Missouri-Kansas City) presents: “I is Unruffable”: Rereading African American Sports Performances as Unique Expressions of Dissent

Wednesday October 26, 2011 –  Annie Dell’Aria (City University of New York) presents: Tagging Fans, Tweeting Beards: Major League Baseball, social media, and the body

Thursday October 27, 2011 – Nicholas David Bowman (West Virginia University) presents: Major League Brouhaha: Boosting ratings with bad blood?

Friday October 28, 2011 – Jeremy Groskopf (Georgia State University) presents: “I Found Kong”: Naturalizing the National in Baseball Fiction

formerly dp Posted: October 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: media, negro leagues, online

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TRACER: Bill Veeck’s Satchel Paige vs Joe Dimaggio anecdote

Bill Veeck was known for telling some wonderful tales and so I decided to see if one of his tales was actually true.

Joe Dimaggio had trouble hitting Satchel Paige, partly-I suppose-because Satch made him wait. Satch once committed the ultimate insult of walking a man deliberately to get at Joe, and then getting Joe to pop out. It was DiMaggio’s temperament to be a solid professional, to show no emotion, but you knew that Joe burned inwardly at the gratuitous slap and was hurting to get back at Satch. And so Satch would fiddle around on the mound until he saw he had Joe anxious, then he’d give him the three loop-de-loop windups and have Joe ready to catch the ball in his teeth and spit it out by the time it got the plate. Page 238 Hustler’s Handbook Ivan R. Dee edition

So did Paige ever IBB walk a player to get to Joe and how did Joe do against Paige?

Paige shows up in the major leagues in 1948 and plays for Veeck’s Indians until 1949. He then shows up with Veeck’s Browns in 1951 which is also Joe’s last season. So we have three seasons in which Paige was in the AL and Dimaggio was playing.

In 1948 Paige faces the Yankees 5 times for a total of 7.2 innings. Fortunately we have PBP for all 5 of those games. So did it happen in 1948? Nope. Paige faced Dimaggio twice and got him to fly out and strike out (though Joe did reach base on that strikeout) . The strikeout was to lead off the inning and the flyout did not happen after a walk. In fact he didn’t walk anybody in that game and he only walked one Yankee and that was in a game in which he didn’t face Dimaggio.

In 1949 Paige faced the Yankees 4 times for a total of 9 and a third innings. That year, according to Retrosheet, Paige had no IBB against the Yankees but he did have 3 walks against them. So perhaps one of those was of the unintentional intentional variety. Well, in Satch’s only start against the Yankees Dimaggio did not play and that was the game in which Paige gave up his 3 walks. So we definitely know it didn’t happen this year. Joe was 0-3 against Paige this year with a pop out, fly out, and a strike out. One of the outs had Joe as the leadoff hitter of the inning while the other two outs came after a double play and a flyout.

So all we have left is 1951 and in that year Paige faces the Yankees 3 times for a total of 14 and a third innings. Unfortunately Retrosheet has only PBP for two of the three games against the Yankees that year. Paige does give up 7 walks to the Yankees this year though none of them are recorded as IBB. Perhaps some of them were since it appears Retrosheet has none of his walks recorded as IBB for that year. In Paige’s first start he gives up 5 walks but Dimaggio did not play that day. In their final matchup of the season Dimaggio faces him once and hits into a fielder’s choice. So that just leaves us with the one game in which we only have the boxscore. In that game Paige pitches 4.1 innings and gives up one walk. Unfortunately the other two Browns’ pitchers give up 4 walks so there are a ton of walks to go around. Woodling batted in front of Dimaggio and he did draw a walk. I believe Paige faced him Joe 2 times in that game. So we’ll have to go to the newspapers to find out and the newspapers reveai that Woodling was walked by Pillette in the 4th and not by Paige. Paige walked Joe Collins who subbed for Johnny Mize in the 6th spot while Joe Dimaggio was in the 4th spot. Dimaggio goes 0-2 against Paige in that game and might have struck him out once or twice.

So Joe never faced Paige during the regular season after somebody else had been walked, intentionally or otherwise. Perhaps it happened during spring training. The Yankees held their Spring Training in St. Pete’s during this era except for 1951 when they played in Phoenix. The Indians after WWII moved out to Arizona so it is unlikely that Paige and Dimaggio faced each other when Paige was an Indian. The Browns it appears held their spring training in Burbank, CA in 1951. So it doesn’t appear that his could have happened during spring training.

I’m not sure if they still had exhibition games in the late 40’s and early 50’s or if Veeck heard about some barnstorming game from the 30’s but it appears this part of the story is false.

But on the other hand Dimaggio was 0-8 against Paige so Bill Veeck was very much correct in saying Joe wasn’t very good against Paige.

McCoy Posted: September 28, 2011 at 07:40 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball geeks, cardinals, hall of fame, history, indians, negro leagues, orioles, yankees

 

 

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