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Lookingglass Takes On the Myth and Marvel of Jackie Robinson

I know this is an arts website, but I don’t really need to rehash the enormity of what Jackie Robinson did in 1946 and ’47, do I? Oh, what the hell. Okay, quickly: In the 1880s, a black man named Moses Fleetwood Walker played major league baseball. This was roughly MLB’s Precambrian era. Contemporary accounts have it that he faced the expected discrimination, but was talented enough that his teammates and opponents had no choice but to tolerate him. This delicate balance lasted from 1884 until 1887, when Cap Anson, a notorious bigot who was also baseball’s first real superstar, refused to play a game against Walker and his battery mate, who was also black. By the end of the 1887 season, all of the extant major leagues had voted against offering contracts to players of color. And that was that, for sixty years, until Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey said “This is nuts” and signed Jackie. It wasn’t at all easy, though, obviously, and the new play up at the Lookkingglass, Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, brings to light all of the ambiguity and bravery attached to the move – including the subtle but crucial point that integrating the majors ultimately spelled the end of the Negro Leagues, which were run entirely by African-Americans. (FULL ARTICLE: Chris Jones, Theater Loop, Chicago Tribune)

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