The Embrace | NBC SportsWorld
Pee Wee Reese was not just Jackie Robinson's friend, he was a friend of "My mother always looked at the relationship differently than most. Brooklyn, NY sculpture of Pee Wee Reese left and Jackie Robinson, The Pee Wee Reese-Jackie Robinson monument is a work by sculptor .. have the historic relationship between Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese. The embrace between Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson has been discussed extensively. But now comes the most personal of questions: Did it happen?.
Reese passed away in When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us. Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born in to a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia. At John Muir High School, Robinson became a star athlete in several sports — at shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, quarterback on the football team, and guard on the basketball team. In track he won awards in the broad jump and also won a junior boys singles tennis championship.
Following high school, Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College, where he continued his athletic career excelling in basketball, football, baseball, and track. Inhe was one of four black players on the UCLA football team, a time when mainstream college football had only a few blacks in the game. InRobinson played semi-professional football briefly with the racially-integrated Honolulu Bears in Hawaii, and had plans to continue with the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast Football League.
Army and assigned to a segregated Army unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. At Fort Riley, Robinson and several other black soldiers applied for admission to an Officer Candidate School, but admission to the program was blocked until help came by way of heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and others.
Then came an incident on a military bus where Robinson was ordered to sit in the back of the bus, which he refused to do, leading to an arrest, some trumped-up charges, and a court martial, in which Robinson was acquitted in August by an all-white panel of officers.
By earlywhile Robinson was serving as athletics director at Sam Houston College in Texas, the Kansas City Monarchs baseball team of the Negro baseball leagues sent him a written offer to play for the team.
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In AprilRobinson also attended a tryout that the Boston Red Sox major league team had arranged for a few black players; a tryout that turned out to be a farce to appease an anti-segregation city councilman. At the tryout, with largely Red Sox management in attendance, there were racial slurs and epithets hurled at the black players, leaving Robinson and others humiliated.
Meanwhile, Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers had been searching for a prospective black ball player to help break the color barrier in professional baseball, and in August after meeting with several prospects, he began meeting with Robinson.
Jackie Robinson at his first minor league game, Jersey City, N. In his year with Montreal, Robinson faced racial difficulties from the start. In spring training in Florida local hotels refused to lodge him. In fact, some baseball parks in Florida at the time, typically eager to host spring training teams, refused to let the Montreal Royals use their parks.
In March the Triple-A Royals were scheduled to play an exhibition against their parent club, the Dodgers. Daytona Beach, however, agreed, and the game was played on March 17, Robinson, meanwhile, throughout his minor league season with Montreal, was taunted and heckled. His play on the field, however, was superior, leading the league in batting and fielding with a.
In fact, at one point in Montreal, after winning the league championship, Robinson was chased — in a good way — by a crowd of jubilant fans.
Next came the big leagues. Rickey delegated team manager Leo Durocher to address the problem head on, which he did in a locker room speech.
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And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded. On opening day with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in AprilRobinson did not have an exceptional playing debut, but more than 26, fans had come out, with about 14, of them black fans. There were also lots of incidents on the road, like that at Crosley Field where Pee Wee Reese interceded. Still, even with this onslaught of taunts, rough play, and death threats, Robinson finished the season with a.
His performance earned him the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award, then a single award covering both leagues. The taunts and threats for Robinson, however, would continue for years.
InRobinson played second base with a. In one game against the St. The Dodgers finished third in the league that year.
By this time, other black players had joined professional baseball, including Larry Doby who joined the Cleveland Indians in the American League in July and Satchel Paige, who also played for Cleveland. The Dodgers, too, had added three additional black players. He also had runs batted in RBIs that year, runs scored, 37 stolen bases, and was second in the league for doubles and triples.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, won the pennant again, but also lost again to the Yankees in the World Series. Jackie Robinson, once on base, was always a stealing threat, having very quick feet, a good sense of timing, and smart base running. He finished the year with a.
He also led the National League in double plays by a second baseman with InRobinson had another good year, finishing with a. He also again led the National League in double plays made by a second baseman with InRobinson had what became for him an average year, finishing with a.
By Robinson began playing other positions, as Jim Gilliam, another black player, took over at second base. The Dodgers again took the pennant and again lost the World Series to the Yankees, this time in six games. Still, on the road, he would speak out and criticize segregated hotels and restaurants that poorly served the Dodger organization, including the five-star Chase Park Hotel in St. Louis, which later changed its practices. InRobinson had a.
His best day at the plate that year came on June 17th when he hit two home runs and two doubles. InRobinson missed 49 games and his performance slipped below his usual standard, hitting. He was now 37, playing either in the outfield or at third base.
The Dodgers took the pennant that year and finally beat the Yankees in the World Series. In the following year,Robinson hit. Around this time, he also began to exhibit the effects of diabetes. After the season ended, the Dodgers started to arrange a trade of Robinson to their arch-rivals, the New York Giants. However, the deal was never completed, as Robinson retired, announcing his retirement in a pre-arranged exclusive story in Look magazine.
He also became a tireless civil rights proponent in baseball and elsewhere, but especially pushing Major League Baseball to do more minority hiring in the managerial and front-office ranks. Jackie Robinson passed on in October He was 53 years old.
Inhis wife Rachel created the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which has since awarded higher education scholarships to more than 1, minority students and is also involved in other baseball history and leadership development programs. The Statues Reese-Robinson sculpture in Brooklyn sits atop a pedestal with descriptive engraving about the incident in Cincinnati.
The injustice of it? It could have happened anywhere in the late s when Jim Crow laws and customs divided Americans. In "42," it happens at Cincinnati's Crosley Field in Reese, portrayed as a Southern innocent, if not a yokel, complains to the Dodgers' boss, Branch Rickey, about a letter threatening him if he plays alongside Robinson. Rickey trumps that single letter with hundreds addressed to Robinson.
42 Movie vs. 42 True Story - Real Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson
Thus instructed, Reese realizes the burden that Robinson has carried alone through that season. So, hearing the Crosley Field racists, Reese crosses the infield to Robinson. The crowd is rendered silent. OK, it's a movie, not a documentary, and the legend of that moment is inspiring. But some of us are satisfied with life's real drama, however quiet it may be.
We prefer the real Pee Wee Reese. Harold Pee Wee Reese was no innocent. He had grown up in a border state that thought of itself as gateway to the South.
The first Saturday in May, before the Kentucky Derby, the assembled thousands sang the official state song, "My Old Kentucky Home," with its lyrics assuring everyone that the "darkies are gay. At age 28, Reese didn't need Mr.
Rickey or Harrison Ford to tell him about the world. Reese's son, Mark, told Berkow, "My father had done his own soul-searching, and he knew that some fans, teammates, and, yes, some family members, didn't want him to play with a black man. But my father listened to his heart, and not to the chorus. I stayed home from school to see the Dodgers win the World Series with Reese relaying a throw from Sandy Amoros in the left field corner to Gil Hodges at first base to double up Gil McDougald and defuse a Yankees' sixth-inning threat in Game 7.
As a young reporter in Louisville, I came to know Reese in his retirement.
Inworking on a column about the 50th anniversary of Robinson's debut, I called Reese, then 78 years old. Related Articles The new movie about Jackie Robinson, '42,' isn't interested in exploring legend vs. Jackie had the courage. If it had been me, a white man, trying to be the only one in the black leagues, I couldn't have done it.
What he had to endure, the criticism, the catcalls -- I wouldn't have had the courage. It's what a shortstop says to his second baseman, especially if one's black and the other's white and it's the late '40s in Jim Crow's South. The story speaks to Reese's poise, wit and, yes, courage. It's why the Dodgers made him their captain and why, decades later, friends called him The Captain.