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November 10, 2008


Don Block

So that my community college students will know that there was once a team known as the Brooklyn Dodgers, I always teach in a different Brooklyn Dodgers' shirt, several of which feature Jackie Robinson. I've got more than 50 different T-shirts, and when the weather gets cold, I wear some repro Brooklyn Dodger flannels. It kills me that nobody ever heard of Ebbets Field and that nobody can say anything intelligent about Jackie other than the fact that he wore 42. I recently purchased a Jackie Robinson All Star jacket and will probably never get the opportunity to let my students see it. Seeing it online will not work, and I still haven't figured out how to use Blackboard to make myself visible online. But I do enjoy answering questions about the Brooklyn Dodgers. I also like to remind my listeners, usually Phillie fans, that Roy Campanella was Philadelphia's gift to Brooklyn and that Philadelphia was the last team in the National League to integrate. (Kennett Square's Herb Pennock was a bad GM.)And it is also interesting to inform them that the Phillie franchise is the losingest franchise in all professional sports dating back to the games in the Roman Colosseum.

How amazing that a city only 90 minutes away from Brooklyn could have been so different in the 50s. No city, not even St. Louis, gave Robinson a more difficult time than Philadelphia. No opposing manager was more bigoted and nasty than the Phillies' Ben Chapman.

bill mahan

Brooklyn in the 1940's and 1950's was very simple if you were poor and lived in the melting pot of ethnic flavors. As times changed and we became more sophisticated as a nation and addressed the intolerances that had been institutionalized, daily life for kids became more complicated. Too bad.

My memories of the Bushwick-Bed Stuy section of my youth includes being yelled at in Italian, Spanish, Yiddish, German, Polish and the Brooklyn dialect that passes for English. I remember going to a jewish classmates' bar mitzvah with our classmates and seeing a row of black kids wearing yarmulkes while Norman spoke in Hebrew that he probably understood not much more than we did. It was a time when color, religion, heritage all were noted but not important in the important things of life. With Obama's election, it is wonderful to see that the nation has caught up with the Brooklyn street kids of fifty to sixty years ago. It would, however, be more appropriate if the President elect were a stickball player and not a basketball lover.

Bill Mahan

Otis Jefferson Brown


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