Jackie Robinson and the Boston connection


April 20, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Fans line up at gate B and surround the statues of former Red Sox players

Ted Williams

(not pictured),

Bobby Doerr

(not pictured),

Johnny Pesky

(not pictured), and Dom Dimaggio (not pictured) before the start of the 100th anniversary celebration and the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Today, baseball celebrates the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, and part of that story revolves around Boston.

In April of 1945 Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe, later to sign with the Boston Braves, and Marvin Williams were invited to try out for the Boston Red Sox. Was this an attempt by Boston to integrate? Unfortunately, it was just a matter of political expediency.

City Councilman Isadore Muchnick had been a thorn in the Red Sox side with the theme being social justice and, quite naturally, the Red Sox decided the appropriate response would be a tryout. The tryout, similar to one Robinson had with the White Sox in 1942, was a sham. Robinson was aware of this and so were the other players who participated.

Glenn Stout is a prolific writer within the sports genre and details this episode in an article he wrote in the Massachusetts Historical Review. Stout also has covered the episode in the book Jackie Robinson: Legends in Sports written by Matt Christopher and Stout.

Imagine if Robinson had been added to that Boston line-up in the mid to late 1940s? The curse would have never existed. The statues at Fenway would most certainly have the addition of Jackie Robinson to join Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

The rest of the Boston connection — the first major league team Robinson appeared against was the Boston Braves. Robinson went 0-3 and scored a run on his way to ROY honors.