The article reads:
Past and Present
By Fay Young...
And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account and mine, should know the like no more;
The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has poured
Millions of Bubbles like us and will pour.
-Omar Khayyam (Fitzgerald translation 1899)
The statement was in answer to a printed article in the New York Daily Worker which quoted Leo Durocher, the Brooklyn National league manager, as having said that he would like to hire one or more Negro players but was unable to do so because the commissioner would not permit it.
DUROCHER, ordered to appear before the commissioner, denied last Thursday that he had made such a statement. Then came Commissioner Landis' statement, issued after the hearing. Landis was quizzed by newspaper reporters at the Brooklyn versus Cubs game from the commissioner's box near the Wrigley field third base dugout. At the time that Landis was explaining his stand, the public address system was announcing a Satchel Paige day at Wrigley field on Sunday, July 26, when the Kansas City Monarchs will meet the Memphis Red Sox in a double header.
LANDIS' STATEMENT was as follows:
This matter has been brought to my attention several times. Certain managers in organized baseball have been quoted as saying the reason Negroes are not playing in organized baseball is that the commissioner would not permit them to do so.
"I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to express myself on this important issue. Negroes are not barred from organized baseball by the commissioner and never have been during the 21 years I have served.
"There is no rule in organized baseball prohibiting their participation and never has been to my knowledge. If Durocher, any other manager, or all of them, want to sign one, or 25, Negro players, it is all right with me. That is the business of the managers and the club owners. The business of the commissioner is to interpret the rules of baseball and enforce them."
TIME AND TIME AGAIN the Chicago Defender has pointed out that there was no rule in organized baseball against hiring a ball player because of his race or creed or color. Yet the color question is and has been there for years. While there isn't any law or ruling in the constitution of either league-there seems to be an unwritten law which stands up and the buck as been passed from owner to manager and from manager to owner. The fact is none have been hired since back when John McGraw played a Negro at second base and palmed him off as an Indian until Pop Anson (long dead), then playing for the Chicago club raised a howl and McGraw let his dark skinned "Indian" out.
There are those who remember such men as Rube Foster, Pete Hill, Mendez, John Donaldson, Bullet Rogan, Homerun Johnson, whose names were familiar wherever baseball was played. There are those who remember that Cuban players of a lighter hue were able to make the major league grade while those of a darker hue-with African strains more predominant-had to be content with remaining with Augustus Molina's Cuban Stars.
ONE COULD WRITE, until the sun sets on the following day, of the exploits of black men whose names could have headlined the daily sport pages if given a chance in the major leagues. Not the present day greats such as Buck Leonard and Joe O'Neil first basemen of the Homestead Grays and the Kansas City Monarchs, respectively, or the Josh Gibson, the great backstop of the Grays; or of Leroy Satchel Paige of the Kansas City club; Lefty Mathis of the Memphis Red Sox, and pitchers in the Negro National league such as Byrd of Baltimore and others.
I REMIND my readers that there still live baseball fans who remember Bob Higgins who played with the white Syracuse team; Grant, with Buffalo; Jackson with Binghampton and Stovey and Walker with Newark.
That was back in 1889. Higgins, with Syracuse team well out in front in the International league pennant race, jumped and went home to Memphis and all the inducements offered by the management couldn't induce the Syracuse star pitcher to come back. And it was Higgins' homesickness that caused every Negro player in the International league to lose his job at the end of the season. Syracuse, without Higgins' help, had lost the pennant.
The season of 1887-88 found four Negro players in the New State league, also the Pennsylvania league. Sol White played second base on the Wheeling club, then under national protection.
THE STATEMENT of Landis is about as empty as the attempt on the part of any major league manager to sign a Negro ball player. The owners would remove the manager. The fact that the first team signing a Negro player would come out of the red financially isn't enough bait. The park owners look at the six to ten thousand Negro fans who would pass through the turnstiles on Sundays alone and sigh. None hae the nerve or the guts to take up Landis' challenge. The same thing is true in professional football. No law-no rule, just an agreement and the same sort of an agreement was sought in pro basketball circles this past spring-not to play either the New York Rens or the Harlem Globe Trotters. It didn't go through.
And it all reverts back to one thing-a question of monies paid the ball player. The salary is what most white men think too much to give a Negro for the same ability to play the game as the white player. I have said this all along; I still cling to my theory. In other words, a Negro ball player is not out there because the owners decree that he should not be and these owners hide behind such a statement which Landis dishes out. In the meantime, Negro fans argue, fight and go to see baseball as played by men who do not want you in the game-AND WON'T HAVE YOU.
Satchel Paige Day Sunday
WELL KANSAS CITY showed how to put on a benefit game last Friday night. The park was donated. The lights were donated. The Monarchs gave their services. The umpires gave their servicesd. The Jefferson Barracks team, managed by Johnny Sturm, formerly of the New York Yankees, lost to the Monarchs, 6 to 0-all for charity. The only expense was the bringing of the soldier team to the city and sending them home. And the team which defeated the Cubs in extra innings was held to one hit by Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith. The one safe blow was a low liner by Sturm in the first inning. It sizzled out of the reach of Joe O'Neil at first base. Paige fanned seven in the three innings he worked. Smith fanned seven in the six he toiled.
And now Paige who pitched sunday against the Chicago American Giants in the second game of the twin bill which the Monarchs won returns to Chicago Sunday, July 26, at the Cubs park against the Memphis Red Sox and the great Lefty Mathis, twice winner over the Monarchs with Paige, this season. That day will be Satchel Paige's day. He will be given a gold watch by the Chicago Defender, a traveling bag by the Savoy ballroom and a $25 slack suit by the Chicago Credit Clothiers. A basket of flowers and other things will be Satchel's. He deserves all of this.