NSWhen he met the Pope at the Vatican last week, the 78-year-old US president was in quite a short conversation. For example, towards the end of the audience, Joe Biden — from Catholic to Catholic — showed Francis, who is six years his senior, a little anecdote from the history of sports in his homeland. Main character: African American baseball pitcher Satchel Page, who has had an amazingly long career.
“Usually, shooters lose limb strength by age 35,” Biden said, referring to the officials’ lavish age. “But he won even on his forty-seventh birthday.” The professional baseball player answered journalists’ questions in light of the extraordinary performance with an unforgettable sentence: For him, age is just a number.
Paige is not the only black baseball player to have achieved such legendary status. However, only a few others are firmly entrenched in the public consciousness. One of them is Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 was the first African American to land a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the then Whites Major League Baseball (MLB). Or the home management specialists Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, who in the 1950s helped gradually erase the effects of decades of racial segregation in American sports.
Indeed, there was already such an exceptional talent as the fast sprinting and pulling strong Oscar Charleston, whose talent was recognized by very respectable white contemporaries such as Honus Wagner: “In my many years there, I’ve seen the best players, but no one is better than Charleston yet” .
Reason not to be appreciated: During his professional career, Charleston played between 1920 and 1941 for several teams in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Toledo, among others. But these teams, in which more than 3,000 baseball professionals participated, inevitably existed in their own realm: in the so-called Negro Leagues. White America practiced apartheid in all areas of society. Even in sports.
It was decades before the attempt to correct at least a slightly twisted picture in 2006 with the induction of a group of famous black players into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, a semi-official museum and repository of sports history. Until then, it had been the preoccupation of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, a privately funded facility established in 1990 by former Kansas City Monarchs players.
Last year, they went even further: the professional league upgraded the seven Negro leagues and later gave them “Major League” status. Part of it is grabbing statistical information about their encounters between 1920 and 1948 in the overall directory. “It’s very historically significant,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Museum, who became an influential behind-the-scenes host. “For us it is further evidence of how important the Negro Leagues are, both on and off the field.”
Keeping stories about the life and sporting achievements of black players in memory is “still important.” After all, it cannot be transmitted using statistics. His museum is not a sports-oriented institution either, but it conveys the social context, including a description of the poor economic conditions under which the unions had to work.
White American bank owners rarely give team managers credit to fund their operations, let alone build their own stadiums. At best, you can rent existing systems. Like Yankee Stadium, where many teams have fought since 1933 when the hosts were on their way to the outdoor games.
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