Posts Tagged ‘Baseball Reliquary: Black History 2018’

Baseball Reliquary: Black History 2018

February 20, 2018

Friends & Reliquarians:

Greetings from the Baseball Reliquary! We’d like to begin by sharing details regarding two outstanding programs being co-sponsored by the Reliquary this week, in Pasadena and in San Francisco.

On Saturday, February 24, at 2:00 p.m., in celebration of Black History Month, the Reliquary collaborates with the La Pintoresca Branch Library, 1355 N. Raymond Avenue in Pasadena, to present “From Monarchs to Barons: The Legacy of the Negro Leagues.”  La Pintoresca is a beautiful library built in 1930, and it is located just blocks from Jackie Robinson’s childhood home; in fact, Jackie and his brother Mack frequented this library while growing up in Pasadena.  The Saturday program will feature a lecture/slide presentation on the Negro Leagues by author and historian Byron Motley, whose father Bob Motley was the last surviving umpire in the Negro Leagues.  In addition, one of Los Angeles’s cultural treasures, folk singer Ross Altman, will perform a couple of his baseball songs: “Ballad of Jackie Robinson” and “Civil Rights and Baseball.”  Arrive early to view an exhibit on the Negro Leagues and Jackie Robinson, including artworks by Bill Cormalis Jr., Tina Hoggatt, and Ben Sakoguchi.  A flyer for what should be a very memorable afternoon is attached.

On Wednesday, February 21, at 6:30 p.m., Robert Elias, Professor of Politics and Legal Studies at the University of San Francisco, will present a lecture/slide show entitled “Before Branch Rickey: The Hidden Forces Behind the Breaking of the Color Barrier.”  The program will be held in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street.  While the story of the Branch Rickey-Jackie Robinson collaboration is familiar, Elias believes that it is also incomplete and, in many ways, misleading.  Aside from the ordeal faced by Robinson, Branch Rickey essentially gets all the credit.  In this version of the story, Rickey — motivated by his moral values and Christian beliefs — pursued an isolated and heroic initiative.  Some have questioned Rickey’s motives, arguing that he was as much, or more so, propelled by money: the profit he would realize from a big new set of paying fans and the championships the Dodgers would likely win with Negro League talent.

While not interested in second-guessing Rickey’s motives in his presentation, Elias will argue that rather than a lonely and heroic initiative, the breaking of the color barrier was the result of a long-term social protest movement, where Rickey was only the last piece in the puzzle.  Rickey always denied that he was influenced by others in signing Robinson and he denied credit to the people, groups, and movements that paved the way for his initiative and made it possible.  As Elias will explain, there were particular, political reasons why Rickey did so.  Pieces of the back story and the hidden history of baseball’s integration have been occasionally raised, but on Wednesday, Elias will provide a more comprehensive picture.  His talk will focus on some of the forgotten heroes of baseball’s integration, including Octavius Catto, Thomas Fitzgerald, Moses Fleetwood Walker, Jack Chapman, Wendell Smith, Paul Robeson, Lester Rodney, Bill Veeck, Sam Nahem, Ben Davis, Pete Cacchione, Vito Marcantonio, Isadore Muchnick, and Fiorello LaGuardia.

Arrive early and visit the exhibition, “A Game of Color: The African-American Experience in Baseball,” being presented by the Baseball Reliquary and the Institute for Baseball Studies in the San Francisco Main Library’s sixth-floor Skylight Gallery.  For more information on the program or exhibition, phone the San Francisco Public Library at (415) 557-4400.

Speaking of “A Game of Color,” the exhibition was the subject of an article by Joe Kukura in the February 14 edition of SF Weekly.  Kukura writes, “If you’ve got baseball on the brain, a new historical exhibit at the S.F. Public Library will give you goosebumps with its mind-blowing array of artifacts and historical items from some of baseball’s most significant African-American players and beloved hellraisers.”  We are pleased to share this link to the online version of Kukura’s article:

Baseball Reliquary. Jackie Robinson. Painting by Michael Guccione

Finally, for this edition of “Baseball Reliquary News & Notes,” we now have an official date for the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day.  It will be Sunday, July 22, 2018 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.  The festivities will begin at 2:00 p.m.  As usual, the ceremony falls between the Major League Baseball All-Star Game (July 17 at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.) and the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (July 29 in Cooperstown, New York).  This summer’s Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day marks the 20th anniversary, with the first ceremony having been held in 1999.  The voting for the Class of 2018 will take place in April, but we wanted to share the date of the induction ceremony now in case anyone wishes to include the festivities in their travel plans for the summer.

Please advise if we can provide any further information or details.

Terry Cannon
Executive Director/The Baseball Reliquary
Co-Director/Institute for Baseball Studies

phone: (626) 791-7647

Support from Pecan Park Eagle readers in, nearby, or traveling to the Los Angeles area – are especially appreciated here too. “TBR” comes across as the cat’s meow when it turns to the matter of preserving baseball on an honest, passionate, and artistic plane. We love and support what they are doing.

Sincerely, Bill McCurdy, Publisher, The Pecan Park Eagle


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle