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[Now,} it was only natural for Jackie to come to appreciate his own worth at the gate and want to tear away from the unnatural bonds that restricted him.


YOU COULD PICK any point during this past season when Jackie completed his own emancipation and you would be both right and wrong. The Maglie incident at Ebbets Field, perhaps, would be as close as any in estimating when the last shackle was torn loose.

To one who remembered the restricted Robinson playing with a fence about him, so to speak, that incident characterized the new Jackie. There had been telltale evidences of his new approach to the business in which he earns his living before he ran up the Giant pitcher’s back and there were to be more after he did so, but this one wrapped up the new Jackie into a neat little package for all to see.

Robinson was a pioneer, but identification in the role of a reformer was something he never sought and did not relish when it came to him. But he felt that hectic night at Ebbets Field last April that he had to see it through even at the risk of his reputation, his body, his wealth and against the advice of his wife. Such was the explanation he made to me when he told why he had decided to make himself the avenging aggressor for the beanballing feud which had become the motif of the Dodger-Giant series.

I told Jackie that Maglie had denied throwing at him.

“I suppose I’m at fault,” he said.

“Every time something happens, I pick up a paper and read I’m at fault. If Maglie didn’t throw at me, then his catcher thought differently. After the bunt, I came back to the plate and picked up my bat and Westrum said, ‘Sal wasn’t throwing at you. You’ve been wearing us out. He was just brushing you back.’

“That’s too fine a difference for me,” Robinson said. “This morning I read where Durocher said it was a bushleague trick. If I’m bush Durocher made me that way. He taught it to me. Right here in this clubhouse, he used to tell us every day, ‘If they throw one at your head, don’t say anything. Push one down and run right up his neck.’ Leo’s an expert at it. He was right. The next two times at bat, not pitch came close to me.”

Following the game that night, Jackie and Mrs. Robinson drove back to their Long Island home and Jackie explained is point of view to her. She, in turn, talked of the larger picture. Some time later, she repeated their conversation to me and said, “I’ve been trying to make Jack see it from the fans’ point of view because they can’t understand what’s in Jack’s mind. They don’t appreciate that he’s willing to run the risk of injury to stop what he believes is wrong. To them it appeared he was maliciously trying to injure Maglie. How can they know what is in his mind?

“Maybe today Jack feels differently about what happened,” she said. “I think I understand his problem better than most. When he’s at bat, he doesn’t have much time to stop and think. Maybe a few hours later, he thinks and does differently.”

AS much as I admire Mrs. Robinson and her incomparable contribution in her partnership with Jackie, I knew as she spoke that she was wrong because Jackie had indicated as much to me.

“I don’t want to have to do something like that again, but if I have to I will,” he said.

The fact is Jackie today feels under no restraint whatsoever. Perhaps even less than any other player because, in effect, he has accomplished more. Other players hesitate to air their opinions, but Jackie, who had allowed so much to be shut inside him for so many seasons, speaks his piece whenever there is something on his mind. Much of it is of an incendiary nature, but Jackie doesn’t mind explosive quotes. He despises Durocher and he says so. He thought he was ticketed for trade before the start of this season and he felt free to tell me about it. …

This is the unencumbered Robinson. The only difference between Jackie and the others is that he, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella cannot stay in the same hotel in St. Louis because of the city’s segregation customs.

But there the variance ends. Where he once could not make endorsements, Jackie now considers there are no strings upon him in the matter of cashing in off the field on his talent on the field. If he wants to make a public appearance, for free or for money, he does so without first taking the matter to the Brooklyn higher-ups. He admits no reason why he should follow a course of conduct any different from that pursued by the Joe DiMaggios, the Bob Fellers or the Ted Williamses. He asks no license but accepts no special restrictions.

On the field his bat speaks louder than the others and in the clubhouse there is no deference in his voice and his actions because of his delicate position. Not physically, morally or spiritually does Robby consider himself delicate any longer. He proved to Rickey he could take it. He kept his mouth shut and his emotions bottled for a reasonable period of time, but that time has come to an end. And there’s none who cares to challenge him or has a right to say he is wrong.

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