From Paul Dickson at The National Pastime Museum on February 2, 2018:
The story of the heroic integration of Major League Baseball will be recalled again and again during Black History Month in 2018. It is a story worth retelling if for no other reason than such men as Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and Roy Campanella became the spark for a larger civil rights movement. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, Jackie Robinson was “a pilgrim that walked in the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”
A less well-known subplot in this grand story is the struggle to integrate the game during the preseason in the North at the end of the Second World War and later in spring training in both Florida and Arizona. As the latest version of spring training is about to begin, it is a less well-known, but equally dramatic, story worth recalling.
The very first time that racial integration and spring training appeared in the same sentence was in 1942 when Jackie Robinson requested a tryout at a White Sox spring training camp in Pasadena, California. Robinson, then a student at Pasadena Junior College, impressed White Sox Manager Jimmy Dykes, but nothing came of the event.
Originally published: February 2, 2018. Last Updated: February 2, 2018.