Albertson: Race and baseball, Dick Allen with the Phillies

From SABR member Matt Albertson at Philliedelphia on March 11, 2016:

This article concludes the short series on race and baseball in Philadelphia. The previous two pieces focused on how African-Americans used baseball as a way to integrate society. Octavius Catto and his Pythian Base Ball Club used the game as an engine for racial equality during the late 19th century. The Pythians broke through barriers by playing white-only teams and Octavius Catto used his popularity to push African-Americans to vote. Eventually the major leagues enacted a gentleman’s agreement whereby teams would no longer allow African-Americans to play major league baseball. This policy is at the root of the negro leagues in the early 20th century. But in 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a professional contract, breaking the gentleman’s agreement set decades before.

Other negro leaguers soon broke into the major league ranks, with Bob Trice and John Kennedy being Philadelphia’s first black players. However, while Robinson, Cleveland’s Larry Doby, New York’s Willie Mays and others had great success, Trice and Kennedy did not and their major league careers were short lived. Philly baseball fans waited 16 years before the city’s first black superstar arrived in red pinstripes.

Dick Allen made his first appearance in red pinstripes on September 3, 1963 in Milwaukee. Allen arguably became the most controversial baseball player in Philadelphia baseball history and his on-field and off-field actions still resonate to this day. Allen’s career in baseball and the conversation he still generates are almost too titanic to put into words.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 14, 2016. Last Updated: March 14, 2016.