One Nation under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime

By John Florio; Ouisie Shapiro | Go to book overview

2

Baseball. Hot dogs. Ice cream. For sports fans, nothing beat Florida in the spring of 1961. This was where fourteen of the eighteen big league clubs got in shape for the season. The atmosphere was casual. Fans strolling around could stop and chat with stars like Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Bill White, and Harmon Killebrew.

This was the Sunshine State.

It just didn’t shine on everybody.

Even though the Supreme Court had mandated the integration of public schools in 1954, southern states were still clinging to their own Jim Crow laws and keeping blacks from gaining equal footing. The laws, holdovers from the 1800s, had created two societies, one “colored” and one “white,” and covered virtually every sphere of human contact—not only schools but also restaurants, swimming pools, libraries, restrooms, phone booths, railway cars, and drinking fountains. The accommodations were nominally “separate but equal,” but there was no doubt as to which ones were preferable.

Just as protesters across the South were organizing sit-ins to integrate lunch counters and retail establishments, black ballplayers training in Florida were launching their own struggle to desegregate public facilities, particularly housing.

The New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals shared Al Lang Field, a seven-thousand-seat facility along the St. Petersburg waterfront. White fans could sit anywhere they liked, including the premium, shady seats behind home plate. Black fans were confined to the “colored” section down the right field line, unprotected from the scorching subtropical rays.

Jim Bouton, a white, twenty-two- year-old pitcher from Ridgewood, New Jersey, joined the Yankees in Florida after an impressive 14- 8 season with the club’s Class-B team in Greensboro.

-8-

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One Nation under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword Bob Costas vii
  • A Note to the Reader ix
  • 1 1
  • 2 8
  • 3 23
  • 4 31
  • 5 43
  • 6 51
  • 7 58
  • 8 65
  • 9 72
  • 10 86
  • 11 100
  • 12 111
  • 13 126
  • 14 129
  • 15 138
  • 16 150
  • 17 156
  • 18 164
  • 19 173
  • 20 180
  • 21 192
  • Epilogue- 1975 201
  • Acknowledgments 203
  • Bibliography 205
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