[Marxism] Fwd: Pitching Politics from the Mound | Jewish Currents
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Thu Nov 2 17:07:54 MDT 2017
PITCHING POLITICS FROM THE MOUND
By David Spaner on September 25, 2017.
SAM NAHEM was a right-handed pitcher with a lefty pitch.
One day in 1948, however, Sam lost control of his pitch with Roy
Campanella at the plate. It was a year after Jackie Robinson broke
baseball’s color line, and Sam, with the Philadelphia Phillies, was
pitching to Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodger teammate Campanella, also one of
major league baseball’s first black players. Campanella, Robinson and
the other pioneering black players were facing tremendous racial abuse
from fans and opposing players, so when Sam’s pitch went astray and
decked Campanella, as the Dodger got to his feet he glared at Sam, as if
to say: “Another racist asshole.”
Sam was beside himself, wanting to tell Campanella he hadn’t thrown at
him intentionally, that he had picketed New York’s ballparks demanding
an end to segregation in baseball, that he had managed one of the first
integrated ball teams when he was in the military. Sam, though, was the
opposing pitcher in the midst of a ball game, so he kept quiet.
Battling baseball bigotry was only one part of Sam’s long life of
activism. “I was left,” he told me in an interview a few years before he
died in 2004. “I marched. I contributed to the Republican side in the
Spanish Civil War, gave fundraising parties, was involved in the fight
around the Rosenbergs, was chairman of the negotiating committee for the
union at the Standard Oil plant in Richmond, California.” He was the
most unusual of baseball players: Shakespearean scholar, lawyer,
linguist (Arabic and French as well as English), Beethoven aficionado,
Syrian Jew, Communist, union organizer — and with that integrated
baseball team he managed won the armed forces World Series of 1945.
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