“You’ll never know how easy you and Jackie and Doby and Campy made it for me to do my job by what you did on the baseball field.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Don Newcombe
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s impact can be felt on nearly every aspect of U.S. society, including baseball. Like many children, King played baseball with the neighborhood kids while growing up in Atlanta, GA. However, King also experienced discrimination at an early age when white parents refused to let him play with their children.
While many contend that Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson, and other players helped paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement – and King certainly acknowledged their contributions – King himself had a lasting effect on the game itself, as well as the players and fans. Baseball legend Jackie Robinson was inspired to speak out for civil rights along with Dr. King. In March 1964, Robinson joined King and others in support of a state civil rights bill at a rally in Frankfort, KY. Although the Kentucky bill was not passed that year, it was reintroduced and passed in 1966.
Baseball is a social institution that reflects the people, history, values, and social forces of U.S. society. As such, its history is intertwined with the history of the nation and the legacy of Dr. King. Thank you, Dr. King.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyone!