Dickson: Larry Doby integrates the newly formed Cactus League

From Paul Dickson at The National Pastime Museum on February 16, 2018:

Spring training moved to Arizona for the first time in 1947 when Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck concluded that it would be the right place to bring racially integrated teams, which he felt were about to become a reality.

In mid-February, Veeck hired Louis Jones, a black public relations man, to “. . . prepare the black segment of Cleveland for the arrival of a black ballplayer, unnamed.” Jones was a highly visible force in the community who, among other claims to fame, had been singer Lena Horne’s first husband. Veeck explained that hiring Jones was presumptuous, but he didn’t have any idea of how integrating baseball would all play out.

In his autobiography, Veeck—As in Wreck, Veeck recalled what led him to bring the team west to train in 1947. Before he bought the Indians in 1946 Veeck, who then owned the minor league Milwaukee Brewers, attended spring training in Florida. He was talking to a group of black fans sitting in the bleachers of a ballpark in Ocala, Florida. The town’s sheriff, followed by the mayor, told Veeck he had to leave, because the area was “for Negroes only.”

Veeck was infuriated. After he purchased the Indians in June, he decided to have the team train in Tucson, where he and his first wife owned a guest ranch outside of town. He was somehow convinced that the Jim Crow rules of the South with its White Only signs would be absent in Arizona.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/ending-jim-crow-preseason-larry-doby-integrates-newly-formed-cactus-league-arizona

Originally published: February 16, 2018. Last Updated: February 16, 2018.