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Leigh Montville
August 19, 1991
Many blacks are concerned that Boston and its teams are rife with racism
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August 19, 1991

Beantown: One Tough Place To Play

Many blacks are concerned that Boston and its teams are rife with racism

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"All the talk about Boston really didn't affect me," Brown says. "I'm from the South, so I know about discrimination. I think there's a lot more prejudice in the South than there is here. I'm happy. I like the city, with all the neighborhoods, Irish and Italian and black. I like that. I like Wellesley, the town where I live. You take me to New York, that's where I'm scared. My wife and I were there, and we couldn't wait to get out."

Is this the attitude that is needed? Optimism in the face of pessimism? There have been black athletes who have stayed in the area at the end of their careers, athletes like Carr, who is a hard-charging businessman, talking about "the new frontier of minority business" in Boston. Rice has stayed. Scott has stayed. K.C. Jones and Sanders stayed for the longest time. There have been athletes who have left, angry with the city, notably Russell and Cedric Maxwell and Oil Can. There have been athletes who have played in Boston and returned home as a matter of course.

"Boston was fine with me," says Dennis Johnson, with whom Maxwell once joked that "Larry and Kevin's pictures always are in papers when we win, and black guys' pictures always are in when we lose."

"I lived in different parts of the city," says Johnson. "I didn't have any problems. I lived in other cities. I had a good time in Boston. I go along with the saying 'a heart has no color.' "

The best statement of all might have come from the new arrival, Vaughn, the Red Sox first baseman. An immediate fan favorite—his name, Mo, is chanted every time he goes to the plate at Fenway Park—he has chosen to wear Jackie Robinson's number 42 on his back. He says he wears it in honor of Robinson, in honor of the doors Robinson opened.

"I'm not going to say Boston's a racist town," Vaughn says. "I never prejudge. If it's here, let it come. I can handle it."

Forty-six years after the tryout, the Red Sox finally have their man. Jackie Robinson lives. None too soon.

Foggie: "There will always be racism."

Bynoe: "Always."

Foggie: "You know what the truth is? This is 1991, and there are still places black people can't go. You could take the worst-looking white bum, give him a shave and haircut and dress him in some nice clothes, and he could go to any swank place you want. Bill Cosby, for all his money, couldn't go to those places. I'm not saying that's just here—that's everywhere in America—we just got it strong."

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