Jackie Robinson reset the course of history when he broke baseball’s color line 70 years ago today (April 15, 1947).
Could he have done that with the White Sox instead of the Brooklyn Dodgers?
On March 18, 1942, the White Sox had a chance to make history but passed.
About five years before baseball’s watershed moment, White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes watched Robinson and Nate Moreland work out at his team’s spring training facility in Pasadena, Calif.
According to Jules Tygiel’s 1983 book “Baseball’s Great Experiment,” Robinson, best known as a football star at UCLA at the time, and Moreland, a Negro League pitcher, requested a tryout, which Dykes granted.
History tells us that nothing came of the tryout, the sincerity of which has been questioned throughout the years, but Dykes, who stated he was willing to accept black players, was impressed even though Robinson was hobbled by a charley horse, according to Tygiel.
“I’d hate to see him on two good legs,” Dykes said. “He’s worth $50,000 of anybody’s money. He stole everything but my infielders’ gloves.”
After a stint in the army and with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and the minor league Montreal Royals, Robinson debuted with the Dodgers in 1947. Robinson did not mention this tryout with the White Sox in his 1972 autobiography “I Never Had It Made.”
Minnie Minoso broke the White Sox color barrier on May 1, 1951.