Tom Callahan, SPORT: Racism at Bat No monument for Jackie, April Ed., TIME, 20 Apr 1987, pp. 62.
In a television show last week meant to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the breaking of baseball's color line, an honored executive with Jackie Robinson's old team unwittingly let the country look inside him, and inside the game, to see plainly that the line still exists. Los Angeles Dodgers Vice President Al Campanis, 70, a former minor-league shortstop when Robinson was a second baseman in Montreal, was questioned by ABC Nightline Anchor Ted Koppel about the utter absence of black managers and general managers and the uniform dearth of black executives in what is billed as the great American pastime. Campanis replied, ''I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager . . . Well, I don't say all of them, but they certainly are short. How many quarterbacks do you have -- how many pitchers do you have -- that are black?''
Though appalled, Koppel offered Campanis several shovels for digging himself out, but he just kept piling on the dirt. ''Why are black men, or black people, not good swimmers? Because they don't have the buoyancy.'' Within 24 hours Campanis apologized, but within 48 he was fired by the Dodgers, possibly < at the urging of Commissioner Peter Ueberroth. ''Our record is certainly not good in this area,'' Ueberroth admitted. The way people are now saying ''The Dodgers, of all teams,'' the Dodger players are saying ''The Chief, of all people.'' Campanis had a reputation for fairness: he once traded his son to the Athletics. And the Latin players, in particular, have regarded him as a patron. Pedro Guerrero murmured, ''Probably, if it wasn't for him, I would've been somewhere else . . . I know he didn't mean to say that.'' The question is, How many others did he speak for?
Only Henry Aaron, the vice president and director of player development for the Atlanta Braves, holds a front-office position of any authority. The entire history of black managers spanned just nine years and involved only three men, Frank Robinson, Maury Wills and Larry Doby. No team with a reasonable chance has ever been entrusted to a black. Typically, retired black stars become first-base coaches and clubhouse liaisons. In an infamous 1978 speech, former Senators Owner and lifelong Baseball Man Calvin Griffith told Minnesotans that he moved the team from Washington ''when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ball games, but they'll fill up a rasslin' ring and put up such a chant, it'll scare you to death.'' Baseball ought to be scared to death. T.C.