Mr. Reinsdorf shares his racism enlightenment and history

“42” brings back memories for Reinsdorf (

“42” brings back memories for Reinsdorf
By Mark Gonzales, Tribune reporter
10:01 am, March 21, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Jerry Reinsdorf was one of the last people to leave the theater Wednesday night after the Brookyln native and Chicago White Sox and Bulls’ chairman watched a private screening of “42” with several members of the Sox’s organization.

Reinsdorf admitted he wasn’t aware at the time the impact Jackie Robinson, the major league’s first African-American ballplayer, had at the time.

“Absolutely not,” Reinsdorf said. “I was 11 years old. Half of my friends were negroes. It wasn’t a big deal. I just wasn’t that aware. I first became aware, it hit me that there were no black players.

“One of my black friends, his name was Lester Davis, and I asked him, ‘who is your favorite player?” and he said ‘Jackie Robinson.’ He looked at me like I was nuts. That’s when I realized Jackie is the only black player.”

Reinsdorf couldn’t believe the racism Robinson endured, adding he didn’t recall racism until two years after Robinson reached the majors in 1947.”

I remember being in San Antonio in 1949, I think it was,” Reinsdorf said. “We were taking a train down to visit some relatives in Mexico and they had colored water fountains and colored washrooms, and that was the first time I had ever seen anything like that.

“Brooklyn was the perfect place for the first black ballplayer. It was a melting pot.”Reinsdorf also recalled his near-encounter with Robinson.

“It was a sold out game at Ebbets Field,” Reinsdorf recalled. “I always had general admission seats that weren’t reserved and I was there with a friend of mine and some guy comes by and he says ‘how would you two kids like to be on the Jackie Robinson Show?’

“We are pretty smart, a couple of 14 or 15 year old Brooklyn kids, and we thought he was just trying to get our seats. So we weren’t going any place”

So we wouldn’t move. A little while later, about a half-hour later, two other kids come walking by and say we were just on the Jackie Robinson Show.

“That’s as close as I ever got to meeting Jackie. I know (wife) Rachel, but that’s as close as I got to meeting Jackie. He was exciting. He was not the best ballplayer I ever saw, but he was the most exciting ballplayer I ever saw.”


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