TWO WAYS TO GO HOME
A whole new generation of baseball fans has grown up since the day in April 1947 when Branch Rickey cracked organized baseball's color line by purchasing a first baseman named Jack Roosevelt Robinson. In little more than a decade that crack has brought baseball's entire wall of prejudice tumbling down, and today's fan cheers a roster of heroes whose skin color is of no more concern to their idolaters—or even their detractors—than the texture of Ty Cobb's toenails. So completely, in fact, has the Negro established himself in the ball park that the younger generation may find it hard to believe the trouble he once had getting past the gate.
This, of course, is a salutary sign of baseball's present maturity, but there are those who remember its growing pains all too vividly. In Wait till Next Year, a highly readable autobiography just published by Random House, Jackie Robinson himself (with the help of Carl Rowan) provides many poignant and bitter reminders of the troubled past. There is nothing mellow or complacent about Jackie's memory of the early days. The first Negro in big league baseball was a high-spirited and hot-tempered man who had often to hold his tongue in mock humility while earning by excellence the right to blow off steam like the least of his colleagues. He was—and still is—constantly and electrically aware of his status as a soldier in the forefront of battle. As such he was contemptuous and impatient of the milder attitudes of those who pursued the course of peace.
"I have never felt that there was any dispute between [Roy] Campanella and me as individuals," Jackie writes of one of his best-known fellow pioneers. "Still, it has never been a secret that Campy and I are poles apart in our views on how to deal with racial injustice. I cannot for a moment pretend that I was pleased to see Campy write in the Saturday Evening Post: 'I've never had much trouble with white or colored folks anywhere.... That's because I never tried to push things too hard or too fast.' "
It is not our place to adjudicate a dispute between two fine men on how best to serve their race. We can and do honor both Campy and Jackie, however, for their contribution to baseball not only as great players but as trail blazers who cleared the way for so many more great players. The paths they chose were widely divergent, but each, we think, led to a better national game. It was Jackie Robinson's tireless and truculent refusal to accept a backstairs status that assured the Negro a proper front room in baseball's house. It was Roy Campanella's boundless humanity, transcending race and prejudice, that made him warm and welcome, an accepted member of the family.
ONE RULE FOR A CROWN
The horse that won the Kentucky Derby by three and a half lengths at Churchill Downs last month lost the Belmont Stakes by an even greater margin in New York last week. Since horse racing is at best an uncertain pastime, there is nothing very remark—¬¶ able about this, except that in the case of Venetian Way an added factor may—or may not—have contributed in some degree to the reversal.
It has never been definitely established that Venetian Way was under the influence of a drug called Butazolidin when he won the Derby. Gossip persists that he was, and though his trainer denies authorizing any dosage, there is no legal reason why he shouldn't have. The administration of this analgesic to ease the discomfort of equine stiffness or soreness is common in all racing circles, and Kentucky authorities permit and even encourage its use in races. Racing authorities in other states permit the use of Butazolidin only when horses are training, not racing, a ruling we think wise since any kind of medication affecting a horse's running ability may be used to influence the outcome of a race.
More important, however, than the question of whether Butazolidin in itself is good or bad is the inconsistency of permitting it at one track and forbidding it at another. In simple fairness to the Thoroughbreds competing each year for the Triple Crown, all of its races should be run under the same rules.