ANTHONY R. PRATKANIS & MARLENE E. TURNER
Mr. Branch Rickey, Mr. Jackie Robinson,
and the Integration of Baseball
FOR MOST AMERICANS, April 10, 1947, began just like any other Thursday. Commuters went off to work; shopkeepers opened their stores for business; farmers planted their spring crops; children went off to school perhaps dreaming of playing Major League Baseball or, at least, of playing a little ball at recess. The news of the day was just like the news of any other—a border dispute in Poland, geologists claiming that Antarctica was gradually warming, a world trade conference in Geneva, and a telephone operator strike in New Jersey. The weather forecast called for a sunny day with highs in the upper 50s in Brooklyn, New York.
Around 11:00 a.m., a crowd of baseball fans began to gather on the steep cobblestone slope of Bedford Avenue just outside of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Later, the biggest crowd of the spring—14, 282 paying fans, plus a few youngsters looking in through a gap under the metal gate in right-center field—would be on hand to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play their top Minor League ball club, the Montreal Royals (the 1946 champions of the International League), in one of the last exhibition games of the preseason. The crowd was abuzz with the big sports story of the day: Major League Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler had announced a one-year suspension of Dodger manager Leo Durocher for “accumulation of unpleasant incidents which can be construed as detrimental to baseball”. Dodger fans commiserated about the injustice of the action. Perhaps a few fans were discussing a short article in the New York Times reporting that “of particular interest would be the performance of Jackie Robinson, Negro star, who is expected to play first base for the International league champion Royals. Dodger officials are considering whether to shift Robinson's contract to the Brooklyn club.”1 No black individual had played white Major League Baseball since 1887.