Jackie Robinson broke the "color barrier" in baseball 62 years ago today, on opening day at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, and the media in recent days have relived the moment at great length. One of the reasons is that the new stadium for New York's Mets pays tribute to him in its rotunda. The New York Times has published several pieces in the past week, including a lead piece today in its sports section, complete with a photo of the rotunda -- and Robinson stealing home.
Oddly, the day after Robinson broke in 62 years ago, the Times didn't even mention him in its lead coverage of the game.
The story on the game, printed April 16, 1947, did not say anything about Robinson for the full 18 grafs, nor in the short takes that followed. Yet a check of the boxscore finds him batting second and playing first base.
Pete Reiser was the star of the game but Robinson's historic appearance went missing.
The legendary Arthur Daley, in his column, got around to the subject -- more than halfway through his piece, calling it a "quite uneventful" day for Jackie, beyond hitting into an unusual double play.
And talk about anonymous sources! Daley resorted to quoting an unnamed "veteran" player saying that having Robinson around was "strange" but he would be "accepted in time" since they do want to win games. The player (some think it was Pee Wee Reese) added: "Other sports have had Negroes. Why not baseball?" This was significant, but did none of the Dodgers wish to go out on a limb? Shouldn't Daley have revealed that he had trouble getting anyone to go on the record?
Daley referred to Jackie as "the muscular Negro" and said he "speaks quietly and intelligently."