"sloppy seconds" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 16 21:33:30 UTC 2008

At 3:53 PM -0500 12/16/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>I remember that. Black St. Louisans were fans of the Browns.
>Sportsman's Park, the local professional baseball venue, was owned by
>the Browns and the Cardinals leased it for their home games. When the
>Browns played, there was open seating. When the Cardinals played, the
>venue was Jim-Crowed and black fans were restricted to the bleachers.
>Whites could sit in the bleachers, too, if they chose. But blacks had
>no choice as to where they sat.
>I could never understand this, because the Cardinals weren't owned by
>some absentee, mint-julep-sipping, racist grandee from Mississippi,
>but by a local Arab-American named Fred Saigh, who segregated the
>stadium for Cardinals games by personal fiat. I have no idea what he
>had against the colored. The Jim-Crowing of the Cardinals games
>certainly wasn't demanded by a hostile, racist, local white
>population, either, Saint Louis in the 'Forties and 'Fifties being no
>more racist than Boston in the 'Seventies and 'Eighties. As no less a
>light than the great Bill Russell once noted, WRT those days:
>"I'd rather be in jail in Sacramento than sheriff in Boston."
>And white Bostonian *loved* him!

It's curious.  By the early 1960s, when the American League Brownies
had moved out of town to become the Baltimore Orioles, the National
League Cardinals were renowned as a team of racial harmony, and in
general the National League was much more integrated on the field, if
not off it, than the AL, beginning but not ending with Jackie
Robinson's debut in '47.*  When Curt Flood, now known mostly as the
great martyr in the cause of free agency, was traded from the Cards
to the Phillies, he refused to report (according to various reports,
including that in detail in Halberstam's book on the 1964 season)
because of the tales of how racist Philly was.  So I assume, although
I don't know for a fact, that by the 60s, when the Cards were the
ascendant team in the National League (winning the '64 and '67 World
Series and playing in the '68 one), the stands must have been
integrated as well.  This would have been the Augie Busch era in
terms of ownership--did that make a difference?  Others on this list
probably know more of the details than I do.


*The difference in racial makeup of the two leagues, especially as
regards star players, was the principal reason standardly given for
the NL dominance in the all-star games in those years, and to support
Wilson's point the Red Sox were among the very last team to admit a
black player, in the person of the otherwise forgettable Pumpsie

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