Of all the racist vitriol Jackie Robinson faced in 1947 as Major League Baseball’s first Black player since the 1880s, Philadelphia’s hit the hardest. Today (April 1), the City of Brotherly Love issued an official apology.
“Philadelphia was one of the most disappointing places where he experienced racism,” said Philadelphia city councilwoman Helen Gym, who introduced the unanimously passed resolution to honor April 15 “as a day honoring the lifetime achievements and lasting influence of Jackie Robinson, and apologizing for the racism he faced as a player while visiting Philadelphia.” April 15, 1947, was the day Robinson broke the color barrier.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a local hotel denied Robinson accomodation with the rest of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The biopic “42” dramatized another real incident when the Phillies played in Brooklyn and Phillies manager Ben Chapman taunted Robinson, calling him the N-word and saying, “Go back to the cotton fields.”
Robinson later wrote about that game: “I have to admit that this day, of all the unpleasant days of my life, brought me nearer to cracking up than I have ever been.”
Other Phillies players berated him with similar language, as did many opposing players (and their fans) during that year.
(H/t Philadelphia Inquirer)