Hicks: Baseball helped ease Alabamans into integration in 1960s

From Tommy Hicks at AL.com on October 6, 2013, with mention of SABR member Bob Kendrick:

They just wanted to play baseball, a game they had played, it seemed, all of their lives. From sandlots to city parks, from organized leagues to neighborhood pick-up games where all that was needed was a bat, a ball and maybe a discarded piece of cardboard to serve as first base.

They just wanted to play baseball, and to play it simply for the enjoyment of the game, not to make a statement.

But unwillingly and unknowingly – in retrospect, somewhat unappreciatively as well – baseball played a role in bringing the country and blacks and whites together, the ball parks of the day serving as test grounds for integration, for a sign we as a region had a chance to move past the ugliness that was so pervasive 50 years ago.

Baseball was America’s Game at that time, its national pastime, and the game would earn its designation.

The images that were transmitted on television screens from Birmingham in 1963 – images of fire hoses and attack dogs turned on demonstrators, of bombings and mayhem, violence, hatred and death – not only brought the reality clearly into focus, it served as a mirror held up to reflect the injustice taking place.

Read the full article here: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2013/10/baseball_served_to_helped_ease.html

Originally published: October 7, 2013. Last Updated: October 7, 2013.