Good morning, it’s Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Seventy-four years ago today, the Brooklyn Dodgers finished the preseason by completing a three-game exhibition series with the New York Yankees. The history books say that baseball’s color barrier was broken on April 15, 1947 -- opening day. But for the man who broke it, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, it began four days earlier, on April 11, in the first of the Dodgers’ exhibition games against the Yanks.
I’ll explain in a moment. First, though, a personal note: I’m taking some time off during the next two weeks. You’ll still receive an email each morning touting RCP’s original material, but it won’t include my daily history homily, which I said at the beginning of the year I was getting away from. As many of you have noticed, I’ve had trouble giving it up. Maybe this time off will help. And with that, I’d point you to RCP’s front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors:
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Noem to RNC Donors: “No Single Person Can Save This Country.” Phil Wegmann got exclusive access to the South Dakota governor’s remarks, which seemed to signal a need for the party to move on from Donald Trump.
Biden Backs Extending Regulation of Fentanyl “Look-Alikes.” Phil also has this story.
Biden Admin Puts Religious Freedom Programs on Hold. Susan Crabtree explores a shift of emphasis from Trump administration priorities, particularly in Iraq.
The Great Awokening: America’s Latest “Religious” Revival. Charles Lipson argues that the reckoning progressives advocate would lock-in racial divisions, not heal them.
The Absentee Vote Logic of the New York Times. At RealClearInvestigations, Eric Felten reports that the Times has moved from dark presentations of the risks of absentee balloting to a sunny view of the practice embraced by Democrats.
A Chance for Biden to Put the Environment Ahead of Politics. At RealClearPolicy, Herb Caplan spotlights pending decisions regarding the Obama Presidential Center that would set a green-friendly example.
What the Suez Canal Fiasco Should Tell Us About U.S. Energy Needs. At RealClearEnergy, Guy F. Caruso writes that the shipping logjam highlighted the importance of bolstering American self-sufficiency.
Four Steps for Decoupling From China. At RealClearDefense, Jeffery A. Green proposes actions to enhance supply chain security and spur domestic production of rare earth minerals.
Identity Politics vs. Christianity. At RealClearReligion, Mike Sabo recaps a recent conference on the topic.
A Quasi-Socialist Answer to a Socialist Dilemma. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny and Research Affiliates Chairman Rob Arnott marvel at a $1.9 trillion federal spending plan that rewards states for pursuing economy-weakening policies of the lockdown variety.
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Playing first base flawlessly on April 11, 1947, Jackie Robinson went hitless, but drove in three runs with sacrifice flies. On Saturday, April 12, Robinson singled in his team’s only run. Sunday brought another single, and another RBI. He clearly belonged. But what a story!
“Next time I go to a movie and see a picture of a little ordinary girl become a great star, I’ll believe it,” Robinson explained later that week. “And whenever I hear my wife read fairy tales to my little boy, I’ll listen. I know now that dreams come true.”
Brooklyn fans, white and black, felt the same way. The three-game exhibition series drew some 80,000 fans to Ebbets Field, which was unheard of in those days. The New York Times called Robinson a “magnet.”
Americans had known for more than a year that the Dodgers were intent on being the first major league team to integrate. They’d signed Robinson, a college infielder who’d also been an All-American football player and track star at UCLA, and assigned him to their farm team in Montreal. There, he had played with another black player, a pitcher named Johnny Wright whom some contemporaries said threw harder than Satchel Paige. In 1946, the Dodgers also signed Don Newcombe, another Negro League player, and a sensationally talented black catcher named Roy Campanella. So the table was set and on the weekend of April 11-13 in 1947 the meal was served. It started ordinarily enough.
“Robinson, how are you feeling today?” interim Dodgers manager Clyde Sukeforth asked him.
Robinson said he felt fine.
“Okay,” Sukeforth said, “then you’re playing first base for us today.”
With no more fanfare than that, everything changed. In some ways, Jack Robinson was a pioneering hero helping this country live up to the soaring promise of its founding documents. In other ways, he was like every rookie who ever wanted a break and got it -- and was thrilled at being elevated to The Show.
“The game started and I found myself at first base,” Robinson recalled. “I was the Brooklyn first baseman. The day before I had been Montreal’s first baseman. ‘What a difference a day makes,’ I said to myself. When the umpire said ‘Play ball!’ I finally starting thinking baseball. I finally realized that I was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers; that I had made the big leagues.”
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics