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July 07, 1989 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-07-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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say they never encountered
much anti-Semitism — cer-
tainly no more than outside of
sports — curiously, each had
a story to tell.
Cal Abrams recalled that
he used humor to deal with
anti-Semitic episodes: "One
year I was batting .477 and
leading both leagues by many
points. We were playing in
Cincinnati, and some guy
standing behind another
player in the dugout constant-
ly yelled out as I was leading
off, 'You Jew son of a bitch, I
wish I had your nose full of
nickels'
"I yelled back, 'I wish I had
it full of pennies and I would
be a millionaire.' Then I
would get a hit, and it would
make me feel twice as good."
If professional athletes
seem to be bawdy, foul-
mouthed rednecks, it is
because many of them are.
Vicious barbs that can cut to
a raw nerve are often hurled
across locker rooms, playing
fields and arenas.
Not every Jew could res-
pond with humor and base
hits. Another option was to
meet anti-Semitism head on
— dropping bats, sticks,
gloves and balls and "putting
up your dukes."
Many players and spec-
tators still remember the
Jews weren't forced to play
in a segregated league; they
were allowed to play with the
"white boys" from the
beginning.
Further, while Robinson
went through incredible
harassment during his first
two years, tensions began to
dissipate as more blacks join-
ed Robinson in the major
leagues.
Though it was a slow,
grudging process — the
Yankees didn't integrate un-
til 1955, the Boston Red Sox
in 1959 — black athletes
finally were accepted and now
number a majority of the
great ballplayers of our time.
For Jewish athletes, it was
different. Each one who made
it did so on his own. Jews
never had, nor needed, a
"Jackie Robinson" to blaze a
trail. But even if they had,
there were never that many
Jewish players around to
follow a "Jewish" Robinson.
So those who entered the
major leagues, plus those who
remained in the minors, fac-
ed the same prejudices their

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

17

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