The more sympathetic writers offered an alternative solution to Robinson's problems at the plate: bunt. In The New York Sun of May 1, under the headline ROBINSON'S JOB IN JEOPARDY, Herbert Goren urged the rookie to start laying the ball down: "In Robinson's case, a deep sense of pride is getting the call over common sense. Jack wants to prove in the big leagues that he is not a leg hitter.... Yet he is one of the best bunters in baseball. His former manager, Clay Hopper of Montreal [where Robinson played minor league ball the year before], said he believed Robinson could bunt .260 even if he tried nothing else."
In fact, as Robinson would soon admit, Rickey had been pushing him to bunt the ball as a way of restoring his confidence at the plate, but Robinson did not want to give his many detractors further cause for disparaging his play and spreading doubt about him as a major leaguer. "Mr. Rickey wants me to lay it down more," Robinson told Harold Burr of the Brooklyn Eagle, "but I don't want to bunt my way through the National League. That's what they said about me at Montreal last year, and I want to live that reputation down."
The chief cause for hope that Robinson would break out of his slump was that he was hitting the ball hard—though mostly at someone. On April 30, after the 3-1 loss to the Cubs at Ebbets Field, Shotton said he had thought about benching Robinson but then decided to let him work out of his difficulties at the plate. "There's no reason to get all excited," Shotton said, "no reason to panic."
On May 1 the New York Post's Arch Murray, perhaps Robinson's most ardent supporter in the local press corps, reported seeing signs in the loss to the Cubs that the rookie was emerging from his slump: "He hit two balls as if they'd been shot out of a gun—one that smacked into [pitcher] Doyle Lade's upflung glove and another smash that Peanuts Lowrey dug out of the dirt at third. [Robinson] refuses to get down because he's not hitting.... 'But,' he admitted ruefully last night, 'I'd sure like to get some base hits.' "
Those late April days in '47 would remain the most trying in Robinson's professional life, and the deepening pain was evident on the man's face. "You'd look at him and you knew he was pressing and pushing," Barney, the former reliever, recalls. "He had all that other stuff on his mind. He worked hard to break out of that slump. If we had a night game at eight o'clock, Jackie would be at the ballpark at 10 the next morning to take batting practice. If a pitcher got him out on a slow curve, he would have [Dodgers coach Clyde] Sukeforth throw him slow curves until Jackie's hands blistered. I saw this. He just worked so hard! He could not let himself down. He could not let his race down. He couldn't let anybody down."
No sooner had the alarms been set off by suggestions that the rookie be benched than Robinson was standing in the batter's box at Ebbets Field in the first inning on May 1, facing Bob Chipman of the Cubs. With one slash of the bat, on a pitch hard and in, Robinson made his way into the next day's headline in the New York Herald Tribune: ROBINSON SNAPS HIS BATTING SLUMP WITH TWO-BAGGER. The collar was off, at last.
Because of rain the Dodgers did not play their next game until May 6 at Ebbets Field. Brooklyn beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 as Robinson stroked two singles, one of which contributed to a three-run rally in the sixth. On May 7, in a 2-1 loss to the Cards, Robinson singled in the third inning and in the ninth was robbed of at least a double. According to Gus Steiger of the New York Daily Mirror, St. Louis centerfielder Terry Moore raced toward left "to make a brilliant catch of Jackie Robinson's searing liner."
But Shotton was despairing over Robinson's failure to attack hitter's pitches, and never more so than in the seventh inning of that game. With the bases loaded, one out and the Cards leading 2-0, Robinson worked the count from Howie Pollet to 3 and 1. Then he froze and watched the next pitch whistle by.
"Jackie looked at the only fat pitch Pollet threw all afternoon," lamented Shotton after the game. "A fastball. He let that go and he went after the change..." and bounced into a double play. The Dodgers hit into four double plays that afternoon, but, Shotton muttered, "Robinson's was the killer."
On May 8, in a 5-1 loss to the Cards, Robinson extended his hitting streak to four games, but other screws were tightening on him. The next morning the sports editor of the Herald Tribune, Stanley Woodward, broke a story that the president of the National League, Ford Frick, had headed off a players' strike aimed at forcing Robinson out of the game. The story said the revolt had been instigated by "certain St. Louis players," though none were identified by name, and had been quashed when Frick warned that he would suspend every player involved.