I spoke too soon. Just after putting last month’s newsletter to bed, six classes at St. Lambert Elementary had to be closed because of a couple of positive Covid tests. My seven year old grandson was one of those who had to be tested (thankfully the spit test). The results were negative but he and the rest of the students in the affected classes had to be quarantined for a full week.
Got all my Canadian taxes completed and filed and received refund cheques from both the feds and province by May 5. I now have to start on my US returns, using some of the $2,800 US economic stimulus we received from Biden and friends to pay the New York firm who does the filing. Unlike what Trump did last year, Biden did not have his signature appear on the cheque.
Golf start delayed by rain, Dr.’s appointments and car servicing so I didn’t get to play my first game until May 7 and it was not a very good start. By mid-month we were basking in sunshine with unseasonably warm weather of up to 29 degrees. My game has improved a bit but still a long way to go.
At the last Governing Board meeting the high school was still unsure how graduation ceremonies will be handled. They are hoping to use the auditorium but, most likely they will be held outdoors with social distancing being followed, similar to last year. I’ll send pictures in July.
On May 21 we hit a record high of 31.5 degrees (about 89 F). And wouldn’t you know it I had to shut down the central air conditioning unit. All of a sudden this terrible racket and vibration started up. At first I thought it must be the furnace fan but when I turned off the system the noise persisted. I went down to the look at the furnace in the basement and discovered the noise was coming from the dehumidifier water pump. To get it to stop I had to cut electricity to the entire system as the pump didn’t have a separate shut off switch. I called the service provider the next morning and the best they could do was send a technician in two days. I’ve got admit the guy knew what he was doing. He tried cleaning and restarting the old pump but it still didn’t work. He took it apart and discovered a crack in the plastic housing. After installing a new one I asked how many he kept in the truck. He replied just one – my lucky day perhaps. I have coverage for both the furnace and heat pump so labour for the call was free however, when the technician gave me the bill he said my plan didn’t cover the cost of a new pump which was $180.
I’m scheduled for an MRI on Sunday, May 30 at 7:00 AM. I don’t mind the early start because I can get home and eat breakfast at a reasonable hour. Last time I had one I was stuck in the damn tube for an unusually long time, a lot longer than I was told. It seems my artificial hip was causing problems and the technicians had to recalibrate several times before they were happy with the images. Luckily I am not claustrophobic as a matter of fact I kept dozing off.
When the restrictions are lifted and if you are planning to drive to Montreal from points west, plan your route carefully. The Île-aux-Tourtes bridge, connecting traffic from the 401and 417 to the west-island and downtown Montreal was just closed down when major structural issues were discovered. Apparently human error caused over forty reinforcing rods to be severed or damaged. More than 80,000 vehicles, including 10,000 trucks use the bridge every day. No word yet on when it will reopen. What is it with Quebec and bridges?
Thanks to Dave Erskine for his note about Prince Philip. It is interesting to note how our memories are triggered, in this case the passing of the Prince at 99 years of age. And thanks to Heather Nesbit for her response to Winston Evans’ letter and the old time pictures of brothers Blimp (Ross) and Doug and the Blue Bomber Football team.
And thanks to the usual cast of jokesters, Jim Baxter, Bob Wrigley and Jacquie Hammell.
I didn’t find any obituaries this month and wasn’t sent any by members - I guess that’s a good thing. Please, if you do know of someone who has passed away let me know. And send in any articles or pictures that might be of interest.
Until next month stay safe, we are almost done with this pandemic.
Welcome New and Renewing Alumni Association Members
Liz Warlund (Anyon)
Class of 1960
From Lennoxville, QC
Please renew now.
Class of 1961
Ross (Blimp) McCallum
I enjoyed the monthly newsletter as always but I have a small correction to make on Winston Evans article. Ross (Blimp) McCallum was my brother and he passed away in Carleton Place, Ontario in 2006. I don't believe my family ever lived on Maple street but I was 14 years younger and as far as I know they always lived on Pine Avenue where I was born.
Ross played for several teams including the 1953 Grey Cup with Winnipeg Blue Bombers which they lost to Hamilton 12 - 6. He retired in 1954 when our Father died to help my mom out. So many of the older names in St. Lambert I recognize as they were either friends of Ross or our brother Doug (deceased also in 2006). Ross is #67 in this photo.
The photo of Ross & Doug together was taken in 1961.
Class of 1963
A short personal anecdote about Prince Philip
I worked for INCO in Thompson, Manitoba during the summer of 1970. It was the Centennial of Manitoba joining Confederation and the Royal Family was touring the Province. While in Thompson they did one of their walks along the main street with crowds lining each side stopping to chat randomly.
Philip and Charles were on the side where I was standing and Philip stopped by me and asked what I did in Thompson. I told him I was working in the mine for the summer. He said, "Oh, what do you do in the winter?" I said, "I'm a student at Sir George Williams University in Montreal" to which he replied, "Ah, Sir George Williams, the man who started the YMCA". I thought this was remarkable because I think probably many graduated from Sir George without ever knowing what he had done.
Someone from the back of the crowd shouted out, "Philip the Greek, Philip the Greek". The Duke looked right at him and said, "Oh, are you Greek too". The guy said, "No, I'm Turkish." Philip answered, "That's strange because you look Greek" smiled politely and wandered away.
Got a good laugh from the crowd.
Class of 1971
A Great Leap Forward: the View from Montreal of Jackie Robinson and the Montreal Royals (Part 2)
By Jack Anderson
Jack Roosevelt Robinson and Rachel Isum were wed on February 10, 1946 in West Los Angeles. Two weeks later they set out on a cross-country trip to the Royals Spring training site in Daytona Beach, Florida. Rachel said that they were particularly concerned about arriving on time and ready for work, and that “they were all too familiar with the racial stereotype widely believed by whites and too often acted out by blacks.”
Their troubles began almost as soon as their aircraft landed in New Orleans, where they were informed that they had been bumped from the next leg of their flight, and that there were no more flights that night. After a night in a seedy hotel, they flew on to Pensacola, Florida, where they were bumped once more. Forced to continue onwards in a segregated bus they finally arrived 16 hours later, days late, and were met by Pittsburgh Courier sportswriter Wendell Smith and photographer Billy Rowe, who had been hired by Branch Rickey to escort them around during spring training. Rickey had arranged lodging in the local Negro community, apart from the rest of the Royals.
When spring training games began, the Royals were locked out of games in Jacksonville and Deland, and run out of the ballpark in Sanford, solely due to the presence of Jackie Robinson and fellow Black teammate, pitcher John Wright. Rachel Robinson said “these events took their toll on Jack and that he began to try too hard to win a permanent place on the team as rookies could be cut before the end of training camp. He was over-swinging and having difficulty sleeping and concentrating.” His arm troubles had necessitated a change of position from shortstop, which he had played for the Kansas City Monarchs, to second base and then first. She added, “He went into a slump, that mysterious ailment that plagues even the best ballplayers, but towards the end of camp Jackie broke out, began hitting and made the team.”
There was a way to go yet as New York World Telegram writer Dan Daniel wrote as early as March 6, two days after Robinson’s arrival, that he wasn’t of International League caliber. La Presse added on March 7: “It is perhaps too early to tell, but we are of the impression that Robinson won’t be with the Royals this season.” This was before Robinson and Wright had even played a game, as they only were inserted into the lineup on March 17. The Royals management had had enough of the Florida municipalities’ feeble excuses for canceling games, Royals owner Hector Racine announced: “this will be all or nothing for us. Robinson and Wright will play, or there will be no games” and in this he was backed up by manager Clay Hopper. General manger Mel Jones went even further: “We don’t care if we fail to play another single exhibition game. If they don’t want to play us with our full team, they can pull out of the games.” The Royals backed up their tough talk by moving a game from Deland to Daytona Beach, and the four games the Royals were to play on their way North to start the season were all cancelled.
On April 5, the Royals met the Indianapolis Indians and their experienced long-time major-league pitcher, Paul Derringer. Derringer proceeded to give Robinson the star player treatment, by throwing hard inside and knocking Robinson down twice, with the batter responding each time with first a single then a triple. Derringer spoke to Clay Hopper after the game and told him that Robinson had passed the test: “Clay, your colored boy is going to do all right.”
Wendell Smith wrote in the Courier on April 6, that both Wright and Robinson had made the team, despite no official confirmation. The Royals’ game in Sanford the following day was interrupted by the police chief, insisting that Robinson be removed from the field due to a municipal law prohibiting mixed sports. Robinson had already singled, stolen a base, and scored a run. Robinson was back in the lineup the following day and hit a triple, walked, and scored two runs against Jersey City.
On April 8, the Royals assigned Lou Rochelli, the other presumptive second baseman, to the Saint-Paul, Minnesota Saints of the American Association. Of Rochelli, Robinson wrote in his biography: “the generosity and friendship of a white team-mate in the early days with Montreal is a fond memory” and that Rochelli, despite competing with Robinson for the second-sacker spot, “spent a lot of time helping me, and teaching the techniques needed to be a competent second baseman.” Royals shortstop Stan Breard, a popular native Montrealer, was also a great supporter of Robinson. When a ground ball took a bad hop and struck Robinson in the face, Breard ran over to make sure his teammate was uninjured.
As for Clay Hopper, all agreed that he treated both Jackie Robinson and John Wright fairly. He never spoke out against Rickey’s great experiment and supported the Royals’ stance when visiting other Florida cities. By the time the Royals arrived back in Montreal, Hopper was speaking glowingly of Robinson, calling him: “a regular fella and a regular member of my baseball club” and regaled the sportswriters with tales of Robinson’s fielding and base-running prowess. When the Star ran an opening day layout picturing Abraham Lincoln surrounded by Rickey, Racine, Robinson, and Hopper, the southerner asked for an original for his home in Mississippi.
At the end of spring training the Montreal-Matin announced that Jackie Robinson had made the Royals and a starting spot at second base due to “his truly sensational record in spring training.” This was clearly hyperbole, as his arm injury, sleepless nights and constant harassment from the stands, would easily explain his rather mundane statistics: a .280 batting average, including two doubles and two triples, seven walks, and five stolen bases.
John Wright’s pitching statistics were worse, but he had only thrown 10 innings, compared to several other Royals pitchers who had over 30 innings under their belt. According to Robinson “every time he stepped out there he seemed to lose that fineness and he tried a little bit harder than he was capable of playing.” In his last appearance in spring training Wendell Smith reported that “he was wilder than an Egyptian Zebra”. Years later super scout Clyde Sukeforth said that they did not expect great things from Wright, but they were of the opinion he would be a good companion for Robinson.
There was great anticipation in the stands as 52,000 raucous fans filled the over-capacity Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Jack’s wife, Rachel, was so nervous in the stands she couldn’t sit down. In his second at-bat in the third inning, the Giants were expecting a bunt with two runners on base, but Robinson hit a three-run homer over the left-field wall for a 5-0 Royals lead. Robinson was welcomed as he crossed home plate by the next hitter, outfielder George “Shotgun” Shuba. Shotgun reached out and shook Jackie’s hand to congratulate him and the crowd roared. As he made his way back to the dugout his teammates showed their appreciation. Jackie said, “this was the day that the dam broke between my teammates and myself. Southerners or Northerners, they let me know they appreciated what I did.”
La Patrie said it all in a banner headline in the sports section “Robinson plays the role of Hero” echoed by the Courier whose headline was “Jackie Stole the Show.” Robinson had a 4-for-5 day with one home run, three singles, four RBIs, four runs and a fielding error. At the end of the game, fans swarmed the field to congratulate Robinson, shaking his hand and getting his autograph.
It was not an easy schedule for the Royals as after the Jersey City series, which they won two games to one, they then moved on to Newark, Syracuse, and Baltimore. With the exception of Baltimore, Syracuse proved to be the most inhospitable to Jackie Robinson and John Wright. In Syracuse while Jackie was in the on-deck circle a Syracuse player pushed a black cat on the field and yelled at Robinson: “Hey, Jackie, here’s your cousin clowning on the field”. The umpire ordered the Syracuse bench to behave themselves.
Baltimore was to be the real test for the great experiment. International League President Shag Shaughnessy had beseeched Rickey: “don’t let that colored boy go to Baltimore. There’s a lot of trouble brewing there.” Rickey replied: “We solve nothing by backing away.”
On a freezing cold Saturday night in late April, the few fans that showed up in Baltimore hurled awful racial abuse, so much that Rachel Robinson later commented that the Baltimore fans “engaged in the worst kind of name-calling and attacks on Jackie that I had to sit through.” Robinson was nervous and tentative the first three games in Baltimore, with only two hits in 10 at-bats and fielding poorly, committing two errors in the field. On Monday night he made up for his earlier performance with three hits in three at-bats and four runs scored. Baltimore pitcher Paul Calvert, a Montreal native and a former Royal, plunked Robinson on the wrist after his hitting performance.
Although the Royals had only a 6-6 record after this grueling road trip to start the season, Robinson was batting .372 with 17 runs scored and 8 stolen bases.
May 1, 1946 was a bright and sunny home opener at Delorimier Stadium for the Royals against the visiting Jersey City Giants. Jackie Robinson was the center of attention as noted in the Star “the fans appreciated what they saw: One of the great athletes of our time, of any time, had all the tools to be a very good baseball player.” Sam Lacy wrote that the “applause for Robinson made the fences shake” and Charles Mayer of the Petit-Journal stated that the ovation for Robinson was the greatest ever given to a Royals player.
Robinson did not have as explosive a game as his previous debut against the Giants, still bandaged on his wrist and sore from the hit-by-pitch in Baltimore. He only had a single, a walk, and a run scored in a 12-9 victory for the Royals. The fans mobbed him after the game and he had to be escorted out of the park by two policemen out of a side door. Rachel Robinson returned the affection of the fans by sitting at a table in front of the main stadium gate and signed autographs.
There were still skeptics as recounted by Phil Seguin of La Patrie: “Jackie Robinson didn’t impress yesterday, in the field he looked weak on balls hit to his right and at bat he only hit the ball out of the infield once, and was caught stealing second base.” Baz O’Meara of the Star wrote on May 16: “Most observers believe that, in a month or so, Robinson will not be hitting with any degree of consistency.”
In the meantime, the Robinsons had to find a place to live in Montreal. Rachel Robinson was worried that they would have a hard time renting an apartment in the city, as she was provided with a list of rental apartments by the Royals. She was warmly greeted by the landlady at 8232 De Gaspe Street, her first choice, and was invited in to tea where they agreed on renting the apartment. When it became known in the French-speaking neighborhood that the Robinsons were expecting their first child, the neighbors carried Rachel’s groceries for her while the women helped her make maternity clothes and gave her ration cards, exhorting her to eat more meat. The experience in Montreal was “almost blissful,” Rachel later remarked. Speaking of Rachel Robinson being a rock to her husband, Lula Jones Garrett, a woman reporter from the Baltimore African-American said: “The only person I know who can equal her is that first citizen of the world, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.”
Rachel Robinson’s fortitude was to be tested as her husband began to show signs of exhaustion in mid-season. The constant pressure caused him to have insomnia and limited his appetite. A doctor advised rest away from the ballpark and afterwards Clay Hopper tried to give him more time off as the season progressed. Rachel had her own challenges as she was pregnant with Jackie Jr. and had to visit doctors regularly, even experiencing old-time medicine as a doctor refused to perform a procedure on her without her husband’s permission.
By the end of May, the Royals had improved to 27-11 and had climbed into first place in the International League. Robinson was leading the league in hitting at .356, in hits with 47 and in runs scored with 38.
Robinson missed a week of games due to a leg injury, returning on June 7, in a victory over the Baltimore Orioles. He then missed games against Baltimore and then the entire series against Jersey City. He then tried to play on June 12 against Jersey City, but withdrew after five innings On Sunday, after 19 straight days on the road, the Royals drew 20,086 fans and the home team split a doubleheader against the Syracuse Chiefs with him still absent. He returned to action on June 21, in the second game of yet another doubleheader against the Newark Bears. On June 24, the holiday of Quebec’s patron saint, John the Baptist, Roy Partlow threw a five-hitter against the Jersey Giants in a Royals victory, becoming the first Black pitcher to officially record a win in organized baseball in the twentieth century. Robinson chipped in with two hits, two runs, one RBI, and five assists from second base.
Al Parsley of the Herald reported that the Royals now had a second Black star, a “dark wizard” who threw lefty with great velocity. On Tuesday, June 25, Robinson had a double and two singles in a win over Jersey City, and the Royals now counted nine players hitting .300 or higher. Bruno Betzel, the manager of the Jersey City Giants was on hand at Delorimier Stadium to see the Royals raise the 1945 pennant, when he had been the Royals’ manager. He took the opportunity to state that as a manager he would have liked to have nine Jackie Robinsons on his team. Another positive for the Royals was the return of star local pitcher Jean-Pierre Roy, who had won 25 games for the Royals in 1945, and picked up his first win on Thursday, June 27.
To end off the month of June, the Royals split a doubleheader against Rochester with Robinson having three hits and three runs scored amid a great show of support from the fans. Danny Murtaugh of the Red Wings tripped up Robinson in the first game, and was soundly booed the rest of the day. For the month in which he was injured more than half the time Jackie hit .319 with 12 runs scored, seven RBIs, and two stolen bases.
The Royals had played their first 30 home games before 214,352 spectators, already 55,000 more than the previous year. On the road the Royals, with Jackie Robinson the star attraction, were also drawing record crowds. Rochester had 14,140 fans for the first two games against the Montrealers compared to only 2,478 the previous year, and in Syracuse the first visit of the Royals drew an all-time record attendance for a weeknight game.
Sam Maltin of the Herald, who also reported for the Courier, said there was no doubt that Robinson’s popularity was the main reason for the increase in ticket sales: “Jackie was regularly surrounded by admirers on this streetcar ride back home, some fans even following him to the door to get an autograph.” Maltin continued: “In restaurants, Jackie’s meal became cold as he was so busy signing autographs” Quebec actor Marcel Sabourin, who crossed paths on the streetcar with Robinson stated: “Instantly he became our idol. His photos filled our scrapbooks, and in the alleys all the youngsters playing ball wanted to be Jackie Robinson.”
Due to rainouts the Royals had a demanding start to July with 11 games in seven days in three cities, in which they won nine, stretching their lead to 10 ½ games atop the standings. After this marathon, the parent Dodgers came to Quebec for two games over the major-league All-Star break against their Quebec farm teams. The Dodgers pounded the Class-C Trois Rivieres Royals, 6-2 on July 8, before facing the Montrealers the following day. Le Canada’s Paul Parizeau wondered if this wasn’t a good opportunity for the Rickey-Durocher tandem to evaluate the Royals players with late-season big-league call-ups in mind. In 1945, despite a promise by Rickey, the Dodgers had called up two of the Royals’ best players, and many fans and reporters thought that this had deprived the Royals of a possible Little World Series berth. Parizeau wrote that they had taken Montreal fans for “suckers” and this should not happen again in 1946. After the Dodgers broke out to a 4-0 lead, the Royals fought back to tie the game at 5-5, and the game was called as the Dodgers had to catch the night train to Chicago. Many of the 16,168 spectators booed the decision and threw seat cushions onto the field.
In mid-July the Royals headed out on a three-week long road trip visiting all the other seven teams in the league. As they did so Montreal also ceded the disappointing Roy Partlow back down to the Trois Rivieres Royals. Unlike John Wright before him, Partlow did not take the demotion well. Wendell Smith, the great sportswriter said: “Partlow is acting like a spoiled child, he should think less of himself and more about the 14 million African-Americans from one ocean to the other who wanted him to succeed in white baseball.”
On Wednesday July 17, the Royals swept two from Rochester, swatting 28 hits. On Sunday the 21, they swept the Syracuse Chiefs in yet another doubleheader with Robinson the hero with four hits in eight at-bats, including his second homer of the campaign. On the 24th, Jackie bunted for a hit, then when the ball was thrown down the right-field line, he scampered all the way round to score. Robinson also made an error in this game, his first in 58 games.
While the Royals were on this long road trip, the Montreal (formerly Pittsburgh) Crawfords of the United States Negro Baseball League split a doubleheader at Delorimier Stadium with the Brooklyn Black Dodgers.
During the Syracuse doubleheader, La Presse reported that Robinson had the 10,000 fans laughing as he bunted for a hit running so quickly he lost his cap and a shoe while running to first base. He quickly put the shoe back on and promptly stole second base. On Friday, July 26, Robinson was the star for the Royals with three hits including a homer as Montreal edged Baltimore, 10-9.
The Royals continued to draw well on the road and while splitting a doubleheader with Baltimore on July 28, the home team drew 26,038 to run their season total to 378,336 fans, an all-time league record. The Royals, wracked by a flu bug which caused five players to miss the last game, then moved on to Newark. Although it did not show in his on-field performance, The Sporting News noted that “the stress continued to mount on Robinson.”
Robinson did not only shine offensively, as he dove to rob Yogi Berra of the Bears of a bases-loaded two-out hit in the first game. He did go 1-for-4 in Monday’s game before stealing three bases with four hits in the doubleheader split on Tuesday.
To close out the month of July, the La Presse eulogized the ballplayer: “Jackie Robinson will possibly move on to the Brooklyn Dodgers next year to create a precedent in the history of baseball. Yesterday, once again, Robinson showed his value to the team by smashing a hard-hit double to right field in the 10th inning to drive in the winning run in a 3-2 Royals victory.”
August began with a loss in Jersey City, where Robinson had two hits on Thursday the 1st, the Royals split a doubleheader on Friday with Robinson adding a 1-for-3 first game before sitting out the later game.
Returning home for another doubleheader on August 4 before 16,556 fans, the Royals swept two from second-place Syracuse. La Presse noted that one couldn’t ignore the contribution of Robinson. In the first game Robinson hit a sharp single knocking in a run and made a beautiful play in the field, while also pilfering his 32nd stolen base. In the second game, he was even more brilliant, leaping two or three feet in the air to snare a hard-hit ball by Syracuse catcher Just, and driving in the winning run.
Monday the Royals took the train North to Trois Rivieres for an exhibition match against the Class-C Royals, defeating the home squad, 8-1. Waiting with a warm welcome at the train station for Robinson were his former roommates, Roy Partlow and John Wright.
Returning to Montreal to face Syracuse, the Royals pitching staff had an off- day, aided by several errors, losing a contested slugfest 18-17 at foggy Delorimier Stadium. La Patrie described the game as a poor imitation of the game of baseball. Robinson had three hits and four runs scored but it wasn’t enough for Montreal. The Royals struck back against the Chiefs on Wednesday, 9-4, with Robinson again going 3-for-4, raising his season average to .367.
Robinson continued his hot streak against the Jersey City Giants on Thursday and the La Presse headline said it all: “Jackie Robinson gives another victory to Montreal.” The newspaper then carried on: “How to vaunt the merits and to highlight the real value of the popular colored player Jackie Robinson is actually an impossible task for a sportswriter without inventing a new dictionary”. Robinson added another three hits, hitting a triple, then daringly made a mad dash home on a shallow sacrifice fly for the winning run. The Gazette’s Dink Carroll, who had been previously reserved in his praise of Jackie, added “There doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t do.”
On August 9 the Royals defeated Jersey City, with Robinson again leading the way with a triple, double, single and four RBIs. His hot streak now extended to 14 hits in his last 19 at-bats.
The Royals downed the Orioles on Tuesday the 13, by a score of 9-1 to improve their home record to 44-13, putting them 15 games ahead of now second-place Buffalo Bisons. Robinson had two walks and two runs scored but was injured by a pitch to his biceps by Orioles hurler Stan West. Between innings Royals trainer Ernie Cook wrapped Robinson’s arm in ice to limit swelling.
Robinson returned to play on Wednesday as the Royals won 2-1 against Baltimore’s Johnny Podgajny, After the game Baltimore manager Alphonse Thomas told La Presse that he was glad to be leaving Montreal, noting that the Orioles, despite being the highest paid team in the League, lacked fighting spirit and the desire to win against the first-place Royals.
Fans at Delorimier Stadium certainly had their money’s worth on Thursday night August 15, as the Royals and Newark Bears put on an unprecedented hitting display in a doubleheader, the Royals winning the first game, 21-6, and Newark taking the nightcap, 12-2. Robinson, who was leading the League in batting, went 3-for-3 with four runs scored, and added another single and run scored in the second game. He kept pace with Newark’s top entry for the batting championship, Al Clark, who had five hits on the night.
After a rainout on Friday, the Royals and Bears split a double-header Saturday at Delorimier, Robinson went only 1-for-8 on the day, with three RBIs dropping his average below .370.
On August 18, the Royals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing the first game, and trailing 1-0 in the last inning of the second game behind Curt Davis before Robinson knocked in the winning run. The two weekend doubleheaders ran the Royals season attendance to an all-time record of 351,022.
The Royals returned to play against the Toronto squad on Tuesday, downing the visitors 6-5 with Robinson chipping in with a single, triple, and two RBIs. On the 21st, in a 6-2 win, Jackie had two hits, two stolen bases, and also advanced from first to third on a sacrifice bunt. Lloyd McGowan of the Star commented: “All pitchers, whether right-handed or south-paws, have looked pretty much alike to Robby in recent games. He can hit the curve, and while a natural right-handed pull-hitter, he can powder the ball to all fields, and has proved he can hit behind the runner.” La Presse added: “Jackie demonstrated once again his speed in stealing two bases to run his season total to 35.”
In the next series against the Bisons, The Sporting News commented: “Robinson earned several ovations from Buffalo fandom, especially after pilfering home, and then turning an unassisted double-play the following night.”
On August 25, against the Rochester Red Wings the Royals won the nightcap, 4-2, behind Curt Davis to clinch the league regular-season title with 90 wins and a 19-game lead. Robinson went 1-for-9 in the double header and he desperately needed some time off to mend from injuries and the tremendous stress he had been under during this breakthrough season. Clay Hopper obliged, granting a few days off and noted in Newsweek, “Robinson is a player who must go to the majors. He’s a big-league ballplayer, a good team hustler, and a real gentleman.” This was quite the turnaround of opinion from before spring training.
Robinson was listed by La Presse as out with a leg injury on August 26 as the Royals lost to the Red Wings, before splitting a doubleheader on Tuesday, with him still absent.
Montreal moved on to Toronto for a doubleheader on the 29th, but reporters quizzed Montreal General Manager Mel Jones, who had to quash rumors that Robinson would be heading to the Dodgers before season’s end: “He’s passed the test here, and he shouldn’t have to go through that again in the big leagues,” Jones said to the Gazette’s Lloyd McGowan. Montreal swept the Thursday doubleheader against the Maple Leafs, and while Robinson was hitless in the first game, he rebounded with a single and a double, and two runs scored, in the late game.
The Royals split a doubleheader against Toronto the next day. The Sporting News reported, “In the second game, Jackie Robinson, Negro infield star, was shifted to the hot corner, a station he is said to be ticketed for to play for Brooklyn next season.” On Saturday, August 31, the Royals downed the Maple Leafs, with Robinson contributing two hits a run and an RBI.
In August he hit .366 with 10 doubles and five triples, hadsix stolen bases and 33 runs scored as the Royals won 24 of 35 games.
Back on home turf at Delorimier Stadium at last on September 1, the Royals swept Buffalo in a twin-bill. The following day, Labor Day, over 27,000 fans were disappointed as their heroes were swept in yet another twin-bill, the Bisons handing the Royals their first double-header loss of the season. Jackie Robinson was 3-for-9 with two RBIs in the losses.
After an off-day on Tuesday, the Royals returned to action at home against the Rochester Red Wings, splitting the doubleheader, with Robinson 2-for-7 with two stolen bases and a run scored in the two games.
On September 4, the La Presse headline read: “Brilliant Debut for Jackie Robinson at third base.” The article said, “the days of Cookie Lavagetto at third base for the Dodgers are numbered, as Jackie Robinson will certainly replace him next Spring.”
After two games at third base in which Robinson started a crisp double play, made a nice catch, stopped several grounders, and made accurate throws, manager Clay Hopper told reporters, “He does everything well that we ask of him.”
On September 5, he returned to second base in a loss against Rochester, then rested for a couple of games… On Sunday the their 39th doubleheader of the season accounting for more than half of a full season’s 154 games.
The Royals attained their regular-season objective of 100 victories in the second game against the Maple Leafs. Robinson went 1-for-5 in the first game and 1-for 3 in the second game to clinch the batting title at .349, scoring a league-leading 113 runs with 40 stolen bases while striking out only 27 times. His stolen base total was second in the league only to teammate Marvin Rackley.
The Newark Bears were the visitor at Delorimier Stadium in the playoff semifinal series, which commenced on September 11. Steve Nagy, Montreal’s ace with a season record of 17-4, started for the home team and took a shutout into the ninth inning before fading as the Royals won 7-5. Robinson was the hitting star for the home team, going 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and three RBIs.
The following day, the Royals needed a suicide squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth by Al Campanis to edge the Bears, 2-1. Robinson went 0-for-3 as Royals’ Glen Moulder and Duane Pillette of the Bears each allowed only five hits.
The series moved to Newark on Saturday and Sunday, and the Bears roared back with great pitching performances to twice edge the Royals. Robinson managed only a double in the latter game, knocking in Montreal’s sole run.
Branch Rickey was in the stands in Newark on Monday, as the Royals’ Glen Moulder again excelled in a 2-1 visitors win. Robinson drove in the winning run and went 1-for-3 as Montreal took a 3-2 game lead in the series.
On September 18, back again in Delorimier Stadium, the Bears took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, when Newark manager George Selkirk vehemently objected a non-called third strike on Royals first baseman Les Burge and was ejected along with three of his players. Given another life, Burge belted a full-count pitch for a homer to tie the game. Speedy outfielder Tom Tatum then singled, and catcher Herman Franks swatted a long double off the scoreboard as Tatum scurried around the bases and scored in a close play at home, just evading the tag by Yogi Berra.
La Presse called the final game of the series a “frenetic end of the game” and a reporter quoted a streetcar rider afterwards as saying “a game like this one, only happens every 25 years.”
After his 2-for-4 day with two runs scored, Robinson said, “George Selkirk came over and shook my hand and those of the other players and demonstrated complete class as a gentleman despite the tough loss and elimination of his team. Robinson hit .318 in the series.
Montreal moved on to face the Syracuse Chiefs in the Governor’s Cup, for the International League championship.
The Royals came out flat at home on September 19, and lost the first game, 5-0. The next day, Friday they roared back to win 14-12 with the winning runs scoring on an inside-the–park three run homer by reliever Chet Kehn in the eighth inning. Old-timer Curt Davis came on in the ninth for the save as Robinson contributed with a 2-for-4 day, a double, and two runs scored.
After the Saturday of travel, at Syracuse on Sunday, September 22, the Royals dominated the Chiefs 11-1, behind a great pitching performance by Curt Davis. Robinson went 1-for-5 in the win.
After two rainouts in Syracuse, the Royals triumphed 7-4 on September 25. Robinson went 1-for-3 with a run scored. The following day the Royals closed out the series at MacArthur Stadium four games to one, with another 7-4 victory. Robinson was instrumental in the clinching win, with four hits in five at-bats, a run scored, two RBIs, and a stolen base. After the first-game shutout, he went 8-for-17 to help the Royals clinch their second Governor’s Cup final, with Robinson hitting .400 for the series.
Montreal then travelled south to Louisville, Kentucky, to face the American Association champion Colonels in the Little World Series. Robinson had managed to withstand abuse before but Louisville promised to raise the attacks to a higher level. Louisville outfielder John Welaj said of the Colonels’ fans: They called him everything under the sun.” La Presse noted that while the Royals stayed at the Brown Hotel, Robinson had to stay in the home of a prosperous Black lawyer.
Louisville fans booed Robinson at every possible occasion, at bat or in the field. Colonels pitcher Otey Clark recalled, “I remember our pitcher Jim Wilson knocked him down, and the fans cheered. Robinson didn’t seem to pay attention to any of it.”
Jackie struggled at bat with an 0-for-5 day in the first game on September 28, the only time he was held hitless in five at-bats all season. The Royals struggled to a 7-5 win in the first game but the Colonels replied on the Sunday with a great two-hit shutout by right-hander Harry Dorish. Jackie went 0-for-2 with an error.
On Monday the Colonels exploded for 19 hits in a 15-6 home team win as Montreal’s Steve Nagy was wild and the relievers weren’t able to stem Louisville’s attack. Motorcycle policemen escorted the visitors in their taxis to the train station for the long train ride home to Montreal, with the Royals now down 2-1 in the series.
Speaking of the treatment of Robinson by the local fans, Louisville outfielder George Bennington told a La Presse reporter on the trip to Montreal: “If I was in his place, I would have thrown my glove into the field and walked away from both the game and baseball. Robinson is truly extraordinary!” Royals shortstop Al Campanis added, “Robinson hasn’t played well down here, but just wait until you see him in Montreal where the fans are his friends.”
Only 14,685 fans showed up at Delorimier Stadium on a freezing and damp Wednesday night, as the Royals evened the series at two games. La Presse described the situation: “As much as Jackie Robinson was booed by Louisville fans during the previous three games, he was cheered last night as he hit a Texas-leaguer to drive in the winning run in the 10th inning.”
In his autobiography, My Own Story, Robinson described the home fans’ response: “We discovered the Canadians were up in arms over the way I had been treated. Greeting us warmly, the let us know how they felt…..All through that first game at home they booed every time a Louisville Player came out of the dugout. I didn’t approve of this kind of retaliation, but I felt a jubilant sense of gratitude for the way Canadian expressed their feelings.”
Montreal was trailing 5-3 into the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Royals loaded the bases and then tied the game to set the stage for Robinson in the 10th. He went 2-for-5, with a run scored and the game-winning RBI in the victory. Louisville had intentionally walked Marv Rackley, preferring to face Robinson with the winning run on third base.
The Royals were again led by Jackie on October 3, as he doubled and scored in the first inning, then tripled and scored the eventual winning run in the seventh, then bunted for a single to score Campanis with the insurance run in the eighth in a 5-3 Royals victory, before 17,758 fans.
On October 4, the Royals sent wily veteran Curt Davis to the mound in search of the championship. Davis, who had celebrated his 43rd birthday the previous day, was masterful as he scattered nine hits in a tight 2-0 shutout. In the ninth inning he induced a double play to second, Robinson’s second of the day, to preserve the shutout. Robinson also singled twice, the only player in the game with more than one hit.
After the final out the Royals raced to the clubhouse as thousands of fans covered thefield. Stadium staff and police could do nothing against such a huge crowd of over 19,000 fans. Courier and Herald reporter Sam Maltin, who was also a great friend, described it thus: “The fans refused to leave and sang “Il a gagné ses épaulettes” (He won his bars) and “We want Robinson.” Clay Hopper came out and the crowd carried him around the field on their shoulders; then Curt Davis made his appearance and the fans carted him around” But the fans refused to move until Jackie showed himself. Maltin continued: “a delegation of ushers went to see Jackie and asked him to step out so they could close the park and call it a season. Jackie came out and the crowd surged on him. Men and women of all ages threw their arms around him, kissed him and then carried him around the infield on their shoulders, shouting themselves hoarse. Jackie, tears streaming down his face, tried to beg off further honors.”
Exact quote from Sam Maltin in the Montreal Herald and Pittsburgh Courier:
“Ushers and police couldn’t keep the crowd from the field. They refused to move and sang ‘Il a gagne ses epaulettes’ (He won his bars) and ‘We want Robinson.’ It was a mob ready to riot. Manager Clay Hopper came out of the clubhouse and they chaired him on their shoulders and carried him around the field. Then veteran pitcher Curt Davis, who hurled the final victory, made his appearance and they carted him around. But there was no Robinson and they refused to move until he showed himself.
“A delegation of ushers went to see Jackie and asked him to step out, so they could close the park and call it a season. Jackie came out and the crowd surged on him. Men and women of all ages threw their arms around him, kissed him, and tore at his clothes, and then carried him around the infield on their shoulders, shouting themselves hoarse.
“Jackie, tears streaming down his face, tried to beg off further honors.”
In My Own Story, Robinson added, “When I at last got ready to leave the dressing room, the passageway was blocked with at least three hundred people. I couldn’t get out, and the ushers and police couldn’t break through and come to my rescue. Finally, I had to take a chance. I passed my bag to a friend, hunched my shoulders, and plunged smack into that throng.”
Maltin carried on the story: “It was a demonstration seldom seen here. Again the crowd started hugging and kissing him. He tried to explain that he had to catch a plane, but they wouldn’t listen, refused to hear him. They held on to him but – as he had done in his football days at UCLA—Robbie gently fought off his admirers and pushed his way through until he found an opening. Then he started running. The mob was running after him. Down the street he went, chased by five hundred fans. People opened windows and came pouring out of their houses to see what the commotion was about. For three blocks they chased him until a car drew up and someone shouted: “Jump in Jackie,” and they brought him safely to his hotel. It was probably the only day in history that a black man ran from a white mob with love instead of lynching on its mind.”
At the airport the next morning Jackie Robinson boarded a flight for Detroit to join a barnstorming tour and on the newsstand was the Le Canada newspaper with the headline “Royals are champions of the World” with a team photo, and individual photos of winning pitcher, and the fans’ favorite, Jackie Robinson.
Robinson confided to reporter Wendell Smith, “As my plane roared skyward and the lights of Montreal twinkled and winkled in the distance. I took one last look at this great city where I had found so much happiness. I don’t care if I never get to the Majors,” I told myself. “This is the city for me. This is paradise.”
Rachel Robinson said, “In Jack’s book he said he owes more to Canadians than they’ll ever know. We were passionately in love and brimming with the anticipation of starting a family. I will always feel a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the attitudes of the people in Montreal. It had a lot to do with our future success.
Frederic Hore - Class of 1970 / Antarctica Expedition Jan 2016
Photo ©2015 Frederic Hore. All Rights Reserved.
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Magellanic penguins get ready to go surfing and hunting for food at Sea Lion Island, East Falkland Islands.
None to report this month
Disorder in the Court (courtesy of Bob Wrigley)
HOW DO COURT RECORDERS KEEP STRAIGHT FACES????
These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy? WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
From Jim Baxter’s collection
Weekly Supermarket Fliers need editing