Robinson recalls his meeting with the commissioner thus: “We exchanged our greetings. And finally, before I got to the subject, I said, ‘Mr. Frick, before I go any further, I want to make this statement: if you brought me here to tell me that I can’t say that the Yankees are prejudiced, you might as well forget that, because if tomorrow someone asks me if I thought the Yankees were prejudiced, the only answer I could say was yes… If the Yankees don’t want me to say it, all they have to do is change – hopefully ‘they will make me a liar.
Robinson suggested he get a transcript of the program before making up his mind. Frank agreed.
Said Frick: “Jack, I just want you to know how I feel about this thing, period. Whenever you believe in something enough and come out swinging. I sincerely hope you swing the real heavy bat and not the fungo bat. It’s a maxim that Robinson would adopt as his own.
“I thanked [Frick] and I said I was certain my actions indicated that was what I was going to do,” Robinson said. “Whenever I see a wrong or hurt, I intend to talk about it or say what I think about it. And the way I feel, not what someone else As always, as with the teenager, Robinson kept his word and said what he thought for the rest of his life.
Jackie came back to Young people want to know on October 4, 1953, alongside Yankees ace Allie Reynolds, just hours after the Yankees beat the Dodgers 11-7 to go 3 games to 2 in the 1953 World Series: “I can honestly say now which I think depends on the ability of the ball player now, not on the color of his skin. By the end of 1953 almost all the clubs had integrated. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox were now the exception.
Robinson spoke with former Kansas City Monarchs secretary Dizzy Dismukes, who was hired as a scout for the Yankees. Robinson played for the Monarchs in 1945. “I haven’t changed my mind yet, as far as the Yankees or a few other baseball clubs… It doesn’t make much difference whether I approve or not” , added Jackie. , “but I’m still waiting to be shown.”
“Which brings it all together, probably, Jackie,” Reynolds replied, “it’s…Vic Power that we’ve had for the last two years.” He had some very good years at home plate. I don’t know what he hit last year. I think it was .340 [his average over two seasons]. The problem with this young man is that he is trying to find him a place to play.
In early 1952, picketers lined Yankee Stadium on opening day, demanding that the world champions “hire black ballplayers now.” Signs read, “Wake up the Yankees, end the discrimination.”
The Yankees may have symbolized Manhattan glitz and the white establishment to many, but the Bronx, where they played, was a multi-ethnic, multi-racial dorm community much like Brooklyn. Community activists in the Bronx saw Jackie Robinson drive through town and wondered why the Yankees hadn’t followed suit like the nearby New York Giants.
“I think he’s pretty much the only one of us [Black players] who is able to say exactly what he thinks,” said Larry Doby of Jackie’s statement about the Yankees in 1953: What would I have said? I think I would have skirted the issue somehow… This is a tricky situation…”