Bosse: 1937 football game brought a young Jackie Robinson face-to-face with racism

From Rian Bosse at Cronkite News on April 15, 2016, with mention of SABR member Jacob Pomrenke:

When Lance Meilech took the opportunity to remodel a former downtown boarding house on Washington Street in 2008, he saw past the disarray of the rundown structure. Instead, he saw an opportunity to resurrect an important piece of history.

Meilech is the owner of the old Swindall Tourist Inn. Once known as the Swindall House, it is the last former African-American boarding house known to still be standing in the city. The Swindall House and others like it hosted African-Americans turned away from Phoenix hotels during the era of segregation.

During segregation, Jackie Robinson, the legendary baseball player who broke the MLB color barrier in 1947, visited Phoenix as a junior college football player, and battled discrimination here long before his baseball career ever began. It was indicative of what he would face throughout his athletic life.

“Nobody touches Jackie Robinson’s legacy. This is the most important athlete in American sports history,” said Jacob Pomrenke, director of editorial content at the Society for American Baseball Research. “Being kind of the precursor for the Civil Rights Movement over the next twenty or thirty years, for a baseball player to have that kind of impact is incredible.”

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Originally published: April 20, 2016. Last Updated: April 20, 2016.