October 01, 2005

Reese to Robinson to History: A new statue that will stand at the Coney Island Cyclones stadium commemorates a historic moment in baseball: The 1947 afternoon at Cincinnati's Crosley Field when Pee Wee Reese of the Brooklyn Dodgers walked across the infield and draped his arm across the shoulder of Jackie Robinson, his new teammate and the subject of widespread racial abuse.

posted by rcade to baseball at 09:01 AM - 18 comments

Excellent choice.

posted by chicobangs at 11:23 AM on October 01

Simple gestures by regular folk make more of an impact than grand pronunciations by important people. Someday, the same sort of gesture will occur when a player goes over to chat with his gay teammate on the field.

posted by grum@work at 02:59 PM on October 01

Players might come over someday to chat with a gay teammate on the field, but they probably won't pat them on the butt.

posted by Desert Dog at 05:35 PM on October 01

Yes, because that would obviously be a request for sex and not a simple expression of team togetherness. Gay is so icky.

posted by yerfatma at 07:59 PM on October 01

Someday, the same sort of gesture will occur when a player goes over to chat with his gay teammate on the field.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:00 PM on October 01

Players might come over someday to chat with a gay teammate on the field, but they probably won't pat them on the butt. Why, because you might get some gay on you by accident? Jesus. Grow up. It's a good example, actually. It'll happen, probably sooner than later. Watch it happen. Be horrified, and then pay attention as people slowly begin to understand something about themselves and the world around them that they didn't before. Just like 1947, just like a hundred times before that event (and since, believe it or not). People once felt thought the same thing about the Irish, the Italians, women, every religious group ever, the handicapped, the literate and witches. You belong in any of these groups? Then there was a Pee Wee Reese in your family history too who made it possible for you to sit at a terminal and facelessly make fun of queers. Think about that. You could make the case (and I personally actually believe) that that moment between Reese and Robinson did more to advance the cause of race relations in this country than all the cheesy PSA's and "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" jingles combined. Jackie Robinson is a true national hero for what he endured, and Pee Wee Reese's great contribution to civil rights was that he understood that fact as it was going down.

posted by chicobangs at 09:13 PM on October 01

Yo, chicobangs, OUCH! Ease up. I was just making a joke. I could personally care less about a persons sexual orientation no matter what they do. But if you believe that gays will be openly accepted in professional sports sooner rather than later, I think you live in a dream world. I imagine there are numerous gay athletes in pro sports as we speak, but their teammates either don't know it or know it and don't want it to be publicly known. And quite frankly, yes, I do belong in one of those groups you mentioned. I am a witch. Actually, a warlock. So right now, I'm conjuring up a spell that will help you come to terms with your paranoia. POOF! Now don't you feel better? I'm out. Much love, The DOG. oh yeah, you call yourself "chicobangs"? I'll bet you do.

posted by Desert Dog at 11:05 PM on October 01

But if you believe that gays will be openly accepted in professional sports sooner rather than later, I think you live in a dream world. Start dreaming.

posted by owlhouse at 11:34 PM on October 01

Well, Desert Dog, I didn't realize that what I said was paranoid or hurtful. And I have two of your comments in this thread that say that despite your protestations, you are a little concerned and maybe even a little scared about someone's sexual orientation. ("POOF!", eh? Heh heh.) Whoever they are, the first pro athlete (from a major team sport, pace tennis and golf) to come out is going to have an unprecedented level of scrutiny attached to him or her (especially if the person is male), including some intense fan hatred and maybe some teammate backlash, but if they're strong enough to withstand the first year, everyone will find that no one's suddenly committing sodomy in the aisles or spreading gayness like some kind of plague in the locker rooms of the nation, and really, it's just not the end of the world. Jackie Robinson, I take it, had to deal with something pretty similar, from teammates afraid to catch The Blackness in the shower, to owners afraid a mixed-race team would suffer at the gate, to entire towns that wouldn't let them stay in the same hotel rooms. I see all those things happening to the first out gay team athlete, especially in football, baseball or basketball. (Hockey, I'm just guessing, would be a little better about such a thing, and hence that may be where someone comes out first.) And for what it's worth, my nick is an homage to this guy. But I understand, and you make fun of my name however you like, it's cool.

posted by chicobangs at 12:08 AM on October 02

It may seem totally trivial and silly, but I was expecting the statue to be...different, better, more "friendship like". I wasn't expecting arm-draping-camaraderie-friendship moment, but still, it looks stiff, weird, unnatural.

posted by sangu at 01:14 AM on October 02

It doesn't really look like the actual moment -- Reese really did have his arm around Robbie's shoulder. What it does remind me of is how in a park off Sheridan Square across the street from the Stonewall in the West Village is a statue that's supposed to depict two gay men. When it was installed, there was a hubbub because it didn't really depict anything at all, even though the artist made it clear that it was two gay men, not just one guy with his hand on another's shoulder...

posted by ajaffe at 07:42 AM on October 02

and here's the photo: http://www.rachelleb.com/000687.html

posted by ajaffe at 07:43 AM on October 02

Off topic, but that artwork has two same-gender couples touching each other affectionately in close proximity. Seems pretty homophilic to me.

posted by rcade at 08:45 AM on October 02

I'm glad you didn't take offense to my remark about your name, chicobangs. I agree with you when you say the first person (male) to make it known theyr'e gay will endure an unprecedented level of scrutiny. But I think 'scrutiny' will be the least of their worries. They'll probably be accepted by some teammates, but I'm sure others will completely turn their back on their gay teammate, whether that teammate it of superstar status or just a bench rider. Whoever steps forward first will strike a huge blow for not just gay people all over the world, but for human rights. But with the way the machismo attitude rules in American sports, not just with the players, but with the fans mainly, I don't see anyone coming forward anytime soon. Sadly, there will be some ugly incidents on and off the field.

posted by Desert Dog at 05:52 PM on October 02

Oh, it'll have to be a superstar who comes out first. If Jackie Robinson was just a utility infielder, Branch Rickey wouldn't have bothered. Why rip a team in half for a bench-warmer, just to make a point about society? No, for someone to come out as gay and not be cut in the interests of "team chemistry," they'll have to be an indispensable all-star, if not a future hall-of-famer. Otherwise they'd just be culled from the herd like anyone else who was causing more trouble in the locker room and the papers than their on-field performance would merit. All that said: while none of us know what the Reese-Robinson moment looked like (well, I'm guessing none of us were in Crosley Field 58 years ago watching warmups), they could have had a better sculpture. I'd have hoped for something a little bit more "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." But it's better than nothing, I guess.

posted by chicobangs at 06:19 PM on October 02

They'll probably be accepted by some teammates, but I'm sure others will completely turn their back on their gay teammate, whether that teammate it of superstar status or just a bench rider. That's going to be a painful statement to make if the gay player is throwing the homophobe player the ball at the time... :)

posted by grum@work at 12:14 AM on October 03

Chico, I've seen the photo, and if I can find that West Village statue, I can find Pee Wee and Robbie. Now, if this dreaded work just didn't keep getting in the way...

posted by ajaffe at 09:42 AM on October 03

I wasn't expecting arm-draping-camaraderie-friendship moment, but still, it looks stiff, weird, unnatural. the final version of the statue is a bit better.

posted by goddam at 04:19 PM on November 01

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.