"That Sickening Red Tinge"
July 12, 2004 5:11 AM Subscribe
Press Box Red For 50 years, Lester Rodney was a forgotten footnote in perhaps the most controversial American sports story of the 20th century: Jackie Robinson and the breaking of baseball's color barrier. Now, the 93-year-old Rodney is getting his due. In the decade before Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rodney was the sports editor of the Daily Worker, a newspaper (the FBI files are here on .pdf) better known as the house organ of the American Communist Party. With strident editorials and feature stories about what he dubbed "The Crime of the Big Leagues," Rodney was an early, often lonely voice in the struggle to end segregation in baseball. But Rodney's contribution was never acknowledged, because of that "sickening Red tinge". Many baseball historians were staunchly anti-communist, and didn't want to acknowledge the contributions of the Communist Party. So Rodney's role (.pdf file) was left out of the official story. With the publication of his biography, Rodney's place in baseball's epochal story has introduced him to a new generation of admirers. "I wanted that ban to end because it was so unfair; I saw the tragedy of these great black ballplayers, like the catcher Josh Gibson, who didn't get a chance to play. It's unimaginable today, but look at Barry Bonds: Imagine if he had been born earlier and been unable to play." (login details for LATimes story in the main link: sparklebottom/sparklebottom)
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