Play Ball!: From May 24, 1947

When word came to Ford C. Frick, president of the National League, that some of the St. Louis Cardinals were talking about a strike against the presence of Jackie Robinson in the Dodger line-up, there were a number of things Mr. Frick could have done. He could, first of all, have done nothing. This would have allowed the malcontents to build up strength—for intolerance thrives on acquiescence—to the point where a major demonstration could have been made, with all its attendant ill-feeling and confusion of issues.

Or he might have sent word privately that such a strike would not be countenanced by the League president. This would doubtless have stopped the strike movement, but would have done little more than that. What Ford Frick actually did has made baseball history. Sam Breadon, president of the St. Louis club, had heard of the proposed strike, which was to have been staged at the first game in Brooklyn; and he flew to New York to consult with Mr. Frick. Both Breadon and Frick took their stand against it; and Frick, as president of the National League, made the official league stand very clear to the Cardinals. Said he:

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If you do this, you will be suspended from the league....I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended, and I do not care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America, and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson, whatever the consequences.

Mr. Frick's words will hardly, of course, work any change of heart in the disgruntled ball players. But they do ensure that the gate of opportunity, opened by the Brooklyn Dodgers, will remain open. They enlist the whole strength of the National League in the cause of justice and equal opportunity. They go a long way towards making our national game even more representative of our true national spirit.

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