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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Robinson has the guts not to fight back
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com


Aug. 28, 1945

Branch Rickey, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was seeking an African-American to integrate baseball. His scouts had told him about Jackie Robinson, an infielder with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League. Today, Rickey meets with the 26-year-old Robinson at the Dodgers' Montague Street offices in Brooklyn.

Rickey wants a man who can restrain himself from responding to the ugliness of the racial hatred that is certain to come. A shorthand version of their fateful conversation:

  • Rickey: "I know you're a good ballplayer. What I don't know is whether you have the guts."

  • Robinson: "Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?"

  • Rickey, exploding: "Robinson, I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back."

    Rickey decides Robinson is his man, and that October he will sign him to a contract with the Dodgers' top farm team, the Montreal Royals in the International League.





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