Pepe: My dream game: Jackie Robinson’s Montreal Royals debut

From Phil Pepe at The National Pastime Museum on March 5, 2015:

The game I wish I saw is one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda things, of which I have had many in more than a half century of covering baseball. For instance, why didn’t I ask Frank Crosetti, whom I saw almost every day during the baseball seasons of 1961 through 1968, if Babe Ruth really did point to where he hit that pitch off the Chicago Cubs’ Charlie Root in the 1932 World Series? Or why didn’t I ask Pete Sheehy, the legendary longtime Yankees clubhouse manager, more about Lou Gehrig and how it went down when the “Iron Horse” removed himself from the lineup after playing in 2,130 consecutive games? Or why didn’t I question Harry Craft, a genial man I knew when he served as a scout for the Yankees, how it felt to be the center fielder in both of Johnny Vander Meer’s 1938 back-to-back no-hitters?

The baseball game I wish I could have attended—my shoulda, coulda, woulda—came on Thursday, April 18, 1946, the day Jackie Robinson, playing for the Montreal Royals of the International League against the Jersey City Giants in Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium, broke organized baseball’s color line.

I shoulda been there to witness not only a critical chapter in baseball history, but also a significant event in American history.

I coulda been there because according to Map Quest my home in Brooklyn was a mere 11.3 miles from Jersey City, just a hop, skip, and a jump through the Holland Tunnel.

I woulda been there if I knew then what I know now, that this was a seminal moment in our National Pastime and in America’s race relations, as big a baseball moment . . . no, a bigger baseball moment . . . than Abner Doubleday (or whomever) laying out the first diamond; George Herman Ruth stepping for the first time on the greensward of Yankee Stadium; or Marvin Miller assuming leadership of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

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Originally published: March 5, 2015. Last Updated: March 5, 2015.