Obit of the Day: The Handshake That Shook Baseball
On April 8, 1946, as Jackie Robinson stepped to the plate for the Montreal Royals history was made. He became the first black man to play professional baseball with white teammates and opponents in over 60 years*. The color barrier was broken.
But that did not mean that the baseball world was ready to move on. During his career Mr. Robinson would suffer the jeers, taunts, and insults from fans and players alike. Their racist vitriol poured over him as he traveled from city to city.
But on that April afternoon in Jersey City, NJ, there was a glimpse of teamwork and kindness. In the third inning, Mr. Robinson stepped up to the plate with two men on and crushed a three-run home run. As he came around to score, George Shuba, the player on deck, walked to home plate, and shook Mr. Robinson’s hand. The image was captured by an Associated Press photographer and went national. Mr. Shuba’s decision to shake Mr. Robinson’s hand showed that at least some players weren’t just going to tolerate black teammates but celebrate them.^
Mr. Shuba would later join Mr. Robinson in Brooklyn, playing parts of seven seasons for the Dodgers. His highlight, like the rest of Brooklyn’s players and fandom, was the team’s lone World Series championship in 1955. Mr. Shuba retired from baseball after winning it all.
He returned to his home in Youngstown, where he played baseball with black children growing up, and worked for the US Postal Service. He kept only one piece of memorabilia from his baseball career - a framed copy of the April 8, 1946 photo.
George Shuba died on September 29, 2014 at the age of 89.
(Image of George Shuba shaking hands with Jackie Robinson as he crosses the plate after hitting a three-run home run in his first professional game on April 8, 1946. The image is copyright of the Associated Press and courtesy of the NY Times.)
* Moses Fleetwood Walker played one season with the Toledo Bluestockings of the American Association in 1884, and was later joined by his brother Weldy Walker. Five years later after complaints from white players led by future Hall of Famer Cap Anson, major and minor league officials voted to stop offering professional contracts to black players.
^ The next season a similar moment occurred when Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese, a noted Southerner, put his arm on Mr. Robinson’s shoulder (or his hand, there is no photograph of the moment) during some of the worst of the verbal attacks in Cincinnati. There is a statue commemorating the moment outside of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league park.
Dates back to 1901.
Dave Dombroski quoted as saying, “BOOM!”
UPDATE: Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin to Rays; Austin Jackson to Mariners (so far)
Source, @KenRosenthal (for real this time)
When this lady was born, the Giants were in New York, their leading hitter was Fred Snodgrass (.321) and Christy Mathewson went 27-6. The team finished second to the Chicago Cubs who won 104 games, coincidentally.
(Baseball Reference for stats)
Like, “Brooks Robinson silly” or “Ozzie Smith silly”?
This play is just silly.
He was a flamboyant player, a charismatic coach, and a sexual predator.
This is an incredible piece. Obivously full of trigger warnings.
I know that MLBO is rather light-hearted most of the time but this is so important it should be read.
Things to Do During the All-Star Break….
Go to Netflix Streaming and watch The Battered Bastards of Baseball.
Brilliant documentary that tells the story of Class A independent minor league team the Portland (OR) Mavericks. So well done. You will not waste any of the hour and nineteen minutes.
Oh, and if anyone wants to star making Portalnd Mavericks hats I would buy one.
(Team photo….which is just wonderful….is courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, which somehow gets to wordmark it even though it’s from the film.)
All-Star Game hats.
Some look great. (Twins, Blue Jays, Pirates, Mariners, Orioles)
Others look terrible. (Diamondbacks, Braves, Marlins, Reds, Rangers)
Also…who starts an alphabetical list from the bottom right?
Addie Joss*, the last pitcher to no-hit the same team twice. Joss threw 74 pitches in his October 1908 perfect game against the White Sox and then shut down the Sox again in April 1910.
Tim Lincecum threw two no-nos against the Padres in 347 days (July 13, 2013 and June 25, 2014)
* Joss died in April 1911 from meningitis and held a career record of 160-97 with a 1.89 ERA, second best ever behind “Big Ed” Walsh, 1.82. Joss holds the record for career WHIP, .97. The National Baseball Hall of Fame waived the ten playing seasons requirement for Joss in 1977 and he was elected to the Hall in 1978.