Faced with threats of black boycotts in several major league cities, Landis, who was instrumental in keeping baseball segregated during his 24-year tenure, suspended Powell for 10 days. Landis acknowledged Powell's "uncomplimentary reference to a portion of the population" but added that he believed the remark "was due more to carelessness than intent."
The New York front office ordered Powell to issue an apology through black newspapers and to undergo the 1938 equivalent of sensitivity training: He toured Harlem bars and begged the forgiveness of patrons. When Powell returned to the lineup on Aug. 16 in Washington, black fans greeted him with boos and hurled bottles onto the field.
Powell played in only 43 games over his next two seasons with the Yankees and then finished his career with a three-year minor league stint and three unspectacular seasons with the Senators and the Phillies. In November 1948 Powell was arrested in D.C. and charged with writing bad checks. While in police custody he committed suicide. That police station may have been as close as Powell ever got to law enforcement. It turns out he was never an officer, though he often joked about being a cop and beating up blacks.
Like Rocker, Powell thought his actions spoke louder than his words. In his letter of apology to the Defender, he wrote, "I have two members of your race taking care of my home while myself and wife are away and I think they are two of the finest people in the world."