AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Byline: Stan Hochman
PHILADELPHIA _ Jackie Robinson played shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro league team, in 1945. Gloomily. Bolted before the season ended.
Branch Rickey signed him for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Made history with that signing. Made millions for the Dodgers. As compensation, Rickey paid the Monarchs: a) $0; b) $1,000; c) $10,000; d) $100,000.
"Rickey paid them nothing," Neil Lanctot said the other day.
"Robinson did not have a contract with the Monarchs. Rickey said it was a poor excuse for a league. Said it was in the zone of a racket.
"I teach a class in sports history at the University of Delaware. I ask my students if they think Rickey should have paid the Monarchs something. Lots of them say, `Well, there was that loophole, Robinson did not have a contract.'
"When the Giants signed Willie Mays, they paid the Birmingham Black Barons some money, because they felt it was the right thing to do, and because they wanted to rub Rickey's nose in it."
Lanctot, a youthful-looking 38, has written a splendid book, "Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution." It is scholarly without being stodgy, it is meticulously researched, clearly written. It sheds harsh yet sympathetic light on a league that was loose as ashes at times, yet survived the Great Depression and the restrictions of World War II. Four seasons after Robinson integrated major league baseball, the …