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Robinson's debut no big deal to NY Times
'Paper of record' underplayed Jackie's historic first game
Good morning, all. I hope you had a tremendous week!
Thursday was “Jackie Robinson Day” throughout Major League Baseball and this great event will continue today, as MLB recognizes the iconic Robinson’s breaking of the game’s color barrier on April 15, 1947. You would have thought this historic occasion would have merited huge coverage in the April 16, 1947 edition of the New York Times, which has billed itself as the “paper of record.” Such was not the case.
Robinson’s first game against the Boston Braves did not make the Times’ front page. For that matter, his debut did not even make the first page of the sports section. More amazingly, it did not even earn, at the least, a sidebar story. The first page of the sports section was reserved for the New York Yankees opening day loss to the Philadelphia Athletics. A United Nations delegation, which attended the Yankees game, garnered more coverage than Robinson.
As for Robinson, there was no mention of his appearance in the game-story written by Roscoe McGowen. Award-winning columnist Arthur Daley made Robinson the fifth story in a notes column about the opening game at Ebbets Field, and what he wrote was so condescending, I would not even quote a snippet of it. The Times did print a photo of Robinson playing first base, above Daley’s column.
So after reading the April 16 edition, I thought maybe all of the Robinson coverage was printed in the advance stories of April 15. What was I thinking? Again, no mention of Robinson’s debut on the front page of the New York Times. On page 31, where the sports section started, Robinson was mentioned in paragraph six in a long story about the Yankees’ and Dodgers’ openers written by Louis Effrat. His name or debut did not appear in the headlines. As for Daley, he managed to write more about Robinson in his April 15 column, although not until paragraph four, and only then was it more about Dodgers’ GM Branch Rickey and “the deft manner in which the Deacon of the Dodgers brought up Robinson.”
Who knows? Maybe this was what Robinson wanted. The less attention the better. After all, he was under enough pressure at it was. And that occasion needs to be placed in historic perspective.
Fortunately, MLB is attempting to right a wrong that will never be completely repaired, by recognizing Jackie Robinson on April 15 each season.
How about Rizzotti to UConn?
If Jennifer Rizzotti ends up on UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma’s staff, I would not be surprised. The iconic UConn player, who coached with success for 17 seasons at the University of Hartford, hit strong head winds as head coach at George Washington University, before being dismissed in March. But the coaching carousel took a surprising turn this week, when another former UConn great, Shea Ralph, left Auriemma’s staff to become the head coach at Vanderbilt.
So there is now a vacancy at UConn. I do not pretend to speak for Rizzotti, Auriemma or the UConn program. But it is not unprecedented in any sport for a renowned, former head coach to join the staff of another renowned head coach. If it happens here, do not be surprised.
How fleeting is fame?
When word emerged this week that baseball great and analyst Alex Rodriguez was on the verge of buying the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, the Timberwolves’ number one draft pick Anthony Edwards responded:
“I don’t know who that is. I know he’s going to be our owner but I don’t know nothing about baseball.”
Edwards is 19, meaning he was three years old, when A-Rod was traded to the Yankees. But his comments, which I’m guessing caught the attention of the baseball commissioner, when he is not focused on the political world, had to be a reminder to Rodriguez, even though he has other things on his mind these days, that fame is fleeting.
Are the Yankees having fun?
As presently constituted, the New York Yankees are not going to win the AL East, let alone the American League pennant. But are they having fun? It certainly doesn’t appear as if they are. In my latest The Baseball Podcast, which you can access by clicking on the show art below, I give my view on the state of the Yankees now and in the future.
Well, that is it for the week. I hope you have a tremendous weekend and thank you for subscribing to my newsletter.