Frank Robinson wasn’t the first player of color with the Cincinnati Reds, but he was the first regular. In 10 years with the Reds, he hit .303/.389/.554 with 324 home runs. In spite of this, he was not a popular player. Some of that was an arrest on a weapons charge that distorted both ownership’s and the public’s perception of him. Except for 1961, the team was mostly mediocre. During Robinson’s tenure, the Reds won the 1961 pennant and were competitive in a few other seasons (1956, 1962, 1964). Otherwise, they disappointed.
Ending Jim Crow in the Preseason:
The Heroic Spring Struggles by Jackie Robinson
and Others at West Point
The story of the heroic integration of Major League Baseball will be recalled again and again during Black History Month in 2018. It is a story worth retelling if for no other reason than such men as Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and Roy Campanella became the spark for a larger civil rights movement. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, Jackie Robinson was “a pilgrim that walked in the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”
In my mind’s eye, going back to when I was 15 years old in 1955, I can still vividly see Jackie Robinson in that dramatic, base-daring style of his—arms flapping, feet dancing—challenging the Yankees rookie left-fielder, the first black Yankee, Elston Howard. I had skipped school that afternoon—I was a sophomore at Sullivan High School on the North Side of Chicago—to watch on television the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees in a World Series game.
January 22, 1918: The New York Yankees traded RHP Urban Shocker, LHP Nick Cullop, 2B Joe Gedeon, 3B Fritz Maisel, C Les Nunamaker, and $15,000 to the St. Louis Browns for LHP Eddie Plank and 2B Del Pratt.
Electronic media introduced itself to baseball in a quiet, unassuming way in 1939, with a single TV broadcast between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers. No one knew what to make of the new medium and how it would impact the game’s popularity, at least not at the outset. Little did anyone realize that within 10 years the sport would be consumed not just at the ballpark but in public places like bars, or from the comfort of one’s home while eating a sandwich.
It was a snowy February 2 in 1876 when the National League was founded, just a few blocks east of Washington Square, in New York’s Broadway Central Hotel. It would be 14 years before the Brooklyn Baseball Club that became known as the Dodgers would join the league, but the team and franchise—with which Charles H. Ebbets’s name is so firmly intertwined—was founded just a few years later, in 1883, when Charles H. Byrne opted to buy a franchise in the Interstate League, a minor league connected with the American Association.
December 3, 1969: The Mets traded OF Amos Otis and RHP Bob Johnson to the Kansas City Royals for 3B Joe Foy.
A very smart general manager once told me that of all the pitchers who dominated in the late 1990s to early 2000s, none was as fierce as Pedro Martinez. And that was saying something.
“Think about this list. I’m talking about Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Hall of Famers,” he said. “But if I had to win one game down the stretch or Game 7 of the World Series, it’d be Pedro every time. He had more than great stuff. That guy wasn’t afraid of anyone.”
Ask the average fan what Joe Sewell was known for and you’d get two answers—1) He was the guy who replaced Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman after Chapman tragically died less than a day after being struck in the head by a Carl Mays pitch in August 1920, and 2) He rarely struck out.