Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baseball color barriers still being broken in 1952, Part 2

Yesterday I detailed how some Southern prohibitions to interracial professional baseball were still  being challenged in 1952.

The Sporting News in 1952 had many other articles that showed black players were still facing racial barriers five years after Robinson had entered the major leagues.

In his April 2 "from the Ruhl book" column, Oscar Ruhl reported an incident involving Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella during spring training in Florida.

Ruhl reported that the Dodgers were returning to Miami from a game in Tampa when Robinson and Campanella were refused a ride from the airport to the team hotel downtown in "white cabs."

They were told they had to wait for a "Negro taxi" to be summoned. The white cabbies, according to Ruhl, claimed they had no objection to transporting Robby and Campy, but that they would face a $50 fine for doing do. 

The black Dodgers caught their segregated cab, but Ruhl reported they were "soaked" $10 for the ride.

Elsewhere in Florida about the same time the minor league Milwaukee Brewers made their own stand against segregation.

An article titled, "Brewers Shun Clubhouse Barred to Negro Teammate," reported that when the Brewers arrived in Bartow, Fla., for an exhibition game with Buffalo, first baseman Jim (Bus) Clarkson was barred from the clubhouse by a "Whites Only" sign on the door.

He was told he could dress at a National Guard armory across the street. The other Brewers declared "We dress where he dresses," and followed Clarkson to the armory.

For the first time in 1952, the Florida International League, the southernmost minor league at the time, fielded black players. A pre-season survey of the eight clubs in the league by the St. Petersburg Times showed seven of the teams had no objections to lifting the color line; the Lakeland club demurred with a “no comment.”

The liberalization in the league was no doubt less influenced by human rights concerns than with the fact that black fans had flocked to Miami Stadium all spring to see major league exhibitions that featured black players, but had stayed away from FIL games.

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