DATE OF EVENT: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 1945
DATE PUBLISHED: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 1945, in The Kansas City Times
Editor’s note: When Jackie Robinson left the Kansas City Monarchs for the Montreal Royals, the farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Monarchs protested his departure. Co-owner T.Y. Baird said in an accompanying story that he viewed Robinson as Monarchs property. Though Robinson was playing for Kansas City, The Star chose to lead with the Associated Press story, distributed nationally, and write only a few paragraphs about the local connection as a sidebar.
Montreal, Oct. 23 (AP)—The first Negro player ever to be admitted to organized baseball was signed tonight by the Brooklyn Dodgers for their International League farm club, the Montreal Royals.
Jackie Robinson, former U.C.L.A. halfback ace and recent shortstop of the Kansas City Negro Monarchs, put his signature on a contract calling not only for a regular player’s salary, but also for a bonus for signing.
Product of a 3-year search and $25,000 hunt for Negro diamond talent by Dodger President Branch Rickey, Robinson signed up in a history-making huddle with Hector Racine and Lieut. Col. Romeo Gauvreau, Royals’ president and vice president respectively, and Branch Rickey, jr., who heads the Brookyn farm system.
“Jack Robinson is a fine type of young man, intelligent and college bred, and I think he can take it, too,” said young Rickey in making the announcement.
Robinson is 26 years old and is from Pasadena, Calif.
Robinson, himself, had little to say about his part in the unprecedented event.
“Of course, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that I am the first member of my race in organized ball,” declared the lean, quiet 6-foot 190-pounder. “I realize how much it means to me, to my race and to baseball. I can only say I’ll do my very best to come through in every manner.”
At U.C.L.A. Jackie received all-America nominations in ’40 and ’41. In the former season, he teamed with another standout Negro backfielder, Kenny Washington, to give the Bruins an undefeated season, but they were tied three times, thus losing the Rose Bowl bid to their intracity rival, U.S.C., tied only twice.
In August of ’42 he went to Soldiers Field in Chicago to play football with the college All-Stars against the pro champions. He went from there to Honolulu for another all-star game, played about a dozen games of pro football on the coast and finally entered the army as a private.
Walter White, secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — “I am delighted that big league baseball has grown up to its name. I happen to know Jackie Robinson and I hope he’ll make good. I think the overwhelming majority of baseball fans will be delighted and will approve of his being signed.”
Horace Stoneham, president of the New York Giants — “We will scour the Negro leagues next year, looking for younger prospects. However, the primary responsibility we have is finding places for our returning servicemen, numbering into the hundreds, and only if they prove incapable will new players be placed on our clubs.”
Clark Griffith, president of the Washington Senators –– “The only question that occurs to me is whether organized ball has the right to sign a player from the Negro league. That is a well-established league and organized baseball shouldn’t take their players. The Negro league is entitled to full recognition as a full-fledged baseball organization.”
THE MONARCHS TO APPEAL
Jackie Robinson is club’s property, co-owner here says
T.Y. Baird, co-owner of the Kansas City Monarchs, Negro professional baseball team, said last night he would appeal to A. B. (Happy) Chandler, baseball commissioner, for a ruling on the right of the Montreal Royals to sign Jackie Robinson, Monarch shortstop, to a contract.
“We won’t take it lying down,” Baird told the Associated Press. “Robinson signed a contract with us last year and I feel that he is our property. If Chandler lets Montreal and Brooklyn get by with this, he’s really starting a mess.”
Baird said the Monarchs, a member of the American Negro league, are counting on Robinson to play with them next season.
“I understand Robinson is in Los Angeles playing winter baseball,” he added.
Robinson was basketball coach at Sam Houston college, Houston, Tex., last winter.
Baird said Robinson hit .345 for the Monarchs last season. His salary was $500 a month, the Monarch co-owner said.