YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Column Pointing Out Racism in Baseball Hits Nail on the Head

December 12, 1987

Mike Downey's column on the "racial situation" in major league baseball (Dec. 9) is the best I've read on this important subject. I, and I'm sure many others, are grateful for it.

Ever since I was 6 years old, baseball has been my favorite sport, and I've followed major league play religiously. I was thrilled by the re-integration of playing rosters when Jackie Robinson made his debut 40 years ago. But, again as with many others, it has pained me over the years to see racism so operational, even with third base coaches.

I had to take it personally when Al Campanis, a man I had liked and respected, spouted all that racist nonsense on "Nightline" in April. It was, and is, incredible that Campanis could know and play with Jackie Robinson 41 years ago in the International League, know dozens, if not hundreds, of other black players and harbor such beliefs.

Racism is a disease and it should be treated as such. How else can anyone explain the gall of people who must know there are qualified minority people, who actually will look them in their faces every day, who will play, work and eat with them and, yet, will pretend that race and/or skin color determine the level of one's competence and intelligence.

Some 80 years ago, there was a man in "Negro League" baseball who, according to the word of whites as well as blacks, was a great pitcher, great field manager, great baseball team operator, great league head, and great baseball promoter. But, "white baseball" never hired him. His name was Andrew (Rube) Foster and he died in 1930. If he were to return to life he would see that, beyond integrated play on the diamond, little, if anything, has changed for the better.

Again, thanks to Mike Downey for dealing honestly and forthrightly with the "Great Baseball Scandal of the 20th Century."


Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times Articles