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WORLD OF THE NEGRO BALLPLAYER
However, certain clarifications are in order.
1) Mr. Boyle states that most of the Negro ballplayers are " 'race men' who prefer to keep away from the whites." This is not quite accurate. Students of race relations "have noted the tendency of minority-group individuals to withdraw into a kind of "protective insulation" because of the fear of rebuff and the uncertainty of acceptance in social relationships. This is an understandable human reaction to an ambiguous situation.
2) The generalization that Negro entertainers seem to be more accommodating and more accepting of segregation practices as compared to more militant race men in the baseball world needs modification. Compare, for instance, the militant Lena Home in the entertainment world with the accommodating Roy Campanella in the baseball world. Another factor here may be the fact that Negro entertainers usually perform before white audiences whereas Negro ballplayers have the support of mixed audiences.
3) When Jackie Robinson first broke into the big leagues, most Negroes became Dodger fans because he was the only Negro ballplayer at that time. Now there is a more wholesome division of interest among Negroes in all the clubs. This is based on loyalty to an individual rather than to race alone.
4) Because Negro ballplayers are no longer a novelty and are taken for grant ed, many fans do not "see" a Puerto Rican in left field but rather Orlando Cepeda; they do not "see" a Negro in center field but the great Willie Mays.
Perhaps in time the wholesome fraternity we now see on the ball field will be extended to other areas of interpersonal relations among ballplayers. Robert Boyle's very helpful article helps to hasten such a day.
The professional ballplayer, Negro or white, is quite different from the normal American. The nature of his job and his preoccupation with it make him so. This difference is, of course, enhanced by the peculiar position the professional athlete holds in the mind of the sporting public. The Negro athlete from the beginning is on the defensive. You mentioned that there are only 57 Negroes out of approximately 400 major leaguers. Growing up in a white man's world and being a "Number Two" citizen force him to be a "race man" merely to preserve his identity as an individual.
Your article is a damning criticism of organized baseball. The whole country is involved in a civil rights squabble which will obviously be a major issue in the forthcoming presidential campaign. Now you present facts which prove a sport which is idolized by countless millions promotes the principle of "separate but equal," which was ruled against by the Supreme Court in 1954. The situation is further disturbing when one realizes the extent to which sports influence our public values, especially among the young.