Magic Johnson teared up about owning a team that broke the color barrier.
At the corner of Montague and Court Streets in Brooklyn, in the ghostly quiet of last Sunday morning, I stood outside a glass-fronted bank and gazed up, to a spot in the air where Branch Rickey offered Jackie Robinson a contract with the Dodgers organization 67 summers ago.
A Panama native nicknamed "Mo," who endeared himself to New Yorkers with a cut fastball that baffled baseball's finest sluggers, is faced with the prospect of an unceremonious end to his illustrious 18-year career.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball, ushered in a new era of ownership Wednesday while ending a dismal chapter of ownership under Frank McCourt, who baseball's commissioner described as "looting" the club of $190 million to fund an extravagant lifestyle.
Sixty-five years ago Sunday Jackie Robinson changed the course of history in his fourth-best sport.
In the March 13 Merseyside derby, Steven Gerrard scored his 87th, 88th and 89th league goals for Liverpool, the club with which he signed his first professional contract 15 years and 400 first-team appearances ago. Gerrard is one of several one-club Premier League players in their 30s -- Jamie Carragher (also Liverpool), Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes (both Manchester United), Tony Hibbert (Everton), Ledley King (Tottenham Hotspur), and Chelsea captain John Terry (if you don't count the six appearances he made while on loan at Nottingham Forest at 20 years old) -- but they're few and far between in these days of big-money transfers. That wasn't always the case; here is a selection of more or less well-known one-club players from the recent and distant past of English soccer.
Roberto Alomar will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. Including Rod Carew, who played 54 more games at first base than second, Alomar is the 17th major league second baseman to be inducted as a player, but the first to be voted in by the writers since 2005, when Ryne Sandberg made it, and only the fourth since Jackie Robinson in 1962. That alone paints Alomar as one of the greatest second basemen in the game's history, but where exactly does he rank on that list?
As one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball history, the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the 2011 season with a victory over the World Champion San Francisco Giants. The nationally televised game was nearly sold out with a seating capacity of 56,000 fans.
Major League Baseball takes control of the L.A. Dodgers after team owner Frank McCourt borrowed money to make payroll.
Everyone knows that Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball "color barrier" in 1947. But what many people today may not know is that while Jackie's courageous performance integrated major league baseball on the field, it took many more years of struggle to break the baseball color barrier off the field.
As baseball fans count down the final restless days of spring training, gearing-up for fantasy drafts and hoping that none of their favorite players get hurt, let's turn to the new crop of baseball books that will soon hit the shelves.
Half a million copies of a new children's book by President Barack Obama hit the shelves Tuesday.
Roy Halladay just joined the most exclusive group in baseball history. Prior to Wednesday night, there had been 220 postseason series played in baseball history since the creation of the World Series in 1903. If those Series averaged five games each, that meant that more than a thousand postseason games had been played and that on more than two-thousand occasions a pitcher started a postseason game with the chance to throw a no-hitter. Yet in all of those games, from among all of those pitchers, a group including most of the games greatest, only one had actually held his opponent hitless for nine innings: Don Larsen, who did so in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Wednesday night, Halladay joined him.
America's author-in-chief is back.
Related photo galleries for the September 13, 2010 issue
Related galleries for the August 23, 2010 issue
Stealing home stories in the SI Vault
All it took was three little letters: L-O-S. With that change to the front of their jerseys during the NBA playoffs this week, the Phoenix Suns became "Los Suns" and Arizona's basketball franchise let the world know where it stands on its state's controversial immigration law.
A few years ago, I came home and found a message on the answering machine from someone who claimed to be Robin Roberts, the Hall of Fame pitcher. The person was calling because he had read some of my work, and he liked it, and he happened to be in Kansas City to see his brother and he wanted to meet me at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum so he could tell me some baseball stories.
Jackie Robinson could really get on base. You might not hear much about that, even Thursday on Jackie Robinson Day because, um, it seems to me that he accomplished something other than getting on base that was fairly important. Even when people talk about Jackie Robinson, the player, they will likely concentrate on Robinson's audacious nature as a base runner -- how he would purposely get caught in rundowns, how he would steal home and so on -- or his pure and naked hunger to win.
The formal segregation of the major leagues is usually pegged to 1887, when Cap Anson, player-manager of the White Sox, refused to take the field in an exhibition game unless black players were barred. It ended 60 years later. Another way to say this is that baseball's color line lasted for less time than has passed since Jackie Robinson broke it in 1947.
One thing about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: the man understood sports.
This is the most wonderful time of the year for Baseball Hall of Fame arguments. They're everywhere. The Shoeless Joe Jackson people are still at it, and the Pete Rose people are only just getting started. The Bert Blyleven people want everyone to know that he struck out more batters than Tom Seaver, and the Tim Raines people will point out that he got on base more times than Tony Gwynn, and the Don Mattingly people plead for voters to compare his numbers to those of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.
Much mail arrived following commissioner David Stern's prediction that a woman probably will play in the NBA within the decade -- so much that I must respect your wishes, and enable you to respond in a public way.
Magic Johnson would have no problem having Michael Jordan's No. 23 retired across the NBA. In fact, he says if the league approves the initiative, he and Larry Bird would be the first in line to support it.
Well ... there were a few people who were not too crazy about my 10 greatest hitters list last week. You come to expect a little bit of anger whenever you put together a list. However, in this case the anger came from rather unexpected sources. It came from:
One of my heroes growing up was Jackie Robinson. My mom, an ardent baseball fan from whom I got my love of the game, had an old baseball card of his from the 1950s and told us his amazing story of courage in integrating baseball.
He might be the most amazing story in sports. At 3, his father was murdered. He'd sit by the front door weeks after the funeral, waiting for the man who never would return to his life. His only memory is of their eating Lay's potato chips together.
A small news story has me thinking big things about NASCAR this week. And to think, it all revolves around something as simple as a number.
Don Larsen had Gil McDougald, Len Barker had Tom Veryzer and Kenny Rogers had Rusty Greer. On Thursday afternoon in Chicago, Mark Buehrle had DeWayne Wise.
These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.
Jackie Robinson's famous steal of home at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series is one of baseball's iconic moments, thanks in part to the enduring still and "new" moving images of the play, and Yogi Berra's continued insistence that Robinson was out (for the record, Jackie appeared to get his toe in ahead of the tag when I played it back frame-by-frame on my HDTV). The Dodgers went on to bring Brooklyn its only world championship in that Series, but they actually lost Game 1, 6-5, making Robinson's the only steal of home in World Series history to come in a losing effort. Robinson's daring play remains memorable, but here are 10 steals of home that were more significant, starting with another by the groundbreaking Dodger.
I was a high school student in 1983, when the video for "Thriller" was released, getting plenty of air time on MTV. By then, the network's "M" could just as easily have stood for Michael. It was an event.
It has been said on more than one occasion that the list of baseball's most significant men is as follows: Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Marvin Miller. The first two were living legends whose stories have been ingrained into the memories of schoolchildren everywhere, and grow more significant with each passing generation.
The United States Mint launched a new coin Tuesday featuring jazz legend Duke Ellington, making him the first African-American to appear by himself on a circulating U.S. coin.
When baseball legend Hank Aaron looks back on his achievements -- most notably his 755 home runs -- he says he is equally proud of helping children chase their own dreams.
Did you think you'd see an African-American elected president in your lifetime? I've asked a lot of people that question since November 4.
Ironically, it was exactly 100 years ago this very month when the black athlete first became visibly controversial on the American scene. For then, on the day after Christmas, 1908, Jack Johnson battered Tommy Burns to become the heavyweight champion of the world, and thereby sent an alarmed cohort of good and true American white men off in their noble search for "the great white hope."
Sportswriter Dave Zirin examines the good, bad and ugly truths behind some of America's favorite pasttimes
Just prior to baseball's annual amateur draft on Thursday, when more than $100 million will be spent on the country's best high school and college talent, Major League Baseball will do something it should have done decades ago. Sixty one years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Major League Baseball will stage a draft of living, former Negro League players. The 30 players who will be "drafted" have already been assigned to each of the 30 teams, and the players will receive a small stipend (believed to be about $5,000).
Conventional wisdom suggests a list of the best baseball players by uniform number should include the lone athlete in pro sports history whose number has been retired by an entire league.
I learned a whole heck of a lot about baseball at Dodgertown, mostly because of the way they taught it. You always had the spirit of the man down there: Branch Rickey. Those that followed him passed it on down. Everybody was aware of Branch Rickey, because they never let his spirit die around there. They always said, Mister Rickey did this and Mister Rickey said that. And it's still going on; it's still lasting. Those things never die.
In the spring of 1949, Tommy Lasorda saw Dodgertown for the first time. "Except I couldn't see anything at all," Lasorda said. "I walked through the gates at 10 at night. The place was so dark, you couldn't see a thing. There wasn't one light on. I was scared to death. I was just a 21-year-old kid, an aspiring left-handed pitcher, who didn't know where I was or where I was going or what would end up happening to me."
At a tennis facility named for the woman who triumphed over sexism, inside a stadium named for the man who beat racism, the woman who made both victories possible finally got her due.
In a black sea of hot asphalt, hard by Area 10 of the Turner Field parking lot, a fittingly modest monument to a people's king rises from rivulets of Georgia heat. On this spot, in what was the Braves' bullpen at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, landed the 715th home run in the career of Henry Louis Aaron. Here too stand facsimiles of the outfield fence and the bullpen wall, on which there is a sign that makes no mention of the major league home run record or Babe Ruth, whose 53-year claim as the alltime home run king passed that night to a poor dry-dock laborer's son. Or as Vin Scully so eloquently told his radio listeners, "A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an alltime baseball idol."
The most popular cringing sensation you're supposed to remember from your school days is ... eeck, yes, fingernails on the chalk blackboard. But for me, and I'm sure for any kid who ever played baseball, there is no more painful memory than hitting a baseball in cool weather and having the bat sting your hands. Oww. Man, that hurt.
Jackie Robinson would have loved Jose Reyes, the New York Mets shortstop whose mentor may be Rickey Henderson but whose dynamic energy on the field recalls Robinson. Baseball's tribute Sunday to the 60th anniversary of Robinson's debut was classy (thanks to Ken Griffey Jr.'s idea to honor Robinson by wearing his No. 42, an idea that spread with enthusiasm), touching (Andruw Jones giving the literal and figurative tip of the helmet to Robinson) and inspiring (C.C. Sabathia pitching with a higher purpose). Given Robinson's importance to American culture and society, Jackie Robinson Day should be part of our country's official calendar, not just the baseball season.
LOS ANGELES -- On a day when Major League Baseball paid tribute to Jackie Robinson, its first black baseball player, Dave Winfield sat in the visiting dugout at Dodger Stadium and envisioned another, more sobering milestone that he could be witnessing a decade from now -- watching the last black baseball player.
You may have heard a lot of folks worrying about the steep drop in the number of black baseball players as the sport celebrates Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier 60 years ago this weekend.
This is not about baseball. Or, rather, it's about so much more than baseball. When Jackie Robinson took America by the collar 60 years ago and shook it for all it was worth, he did it on a baseball field, yes. But why he did it, how he did it, the era in which it took place -- and, of course, that he did it at all -- are infinitely more important than where it happened. Then and now, the act itself was much bigger than the stage. None of us should ever forget that.
I don't think it's arguable: Of all athletic accomplishments in living memory, none was remotely as significant as Jackie Robinson simply stepping onto the grass at Ebbets Field wearing a major lea...
For most of us who didn't live through Jackie Robinson's first day in the major leagues, black and white images have embedded it in our memories. A stark snapshot of Robinson in his Brooklyn Dodgers cap, or frames of newsreel footage showing him running the bases.
Rachel Robinson still has vivid memories of April 15, 1947, when her husband changed America forever.
In many ways the 21st century sports world, with its round-the-clock cable networks, Web site wise men and ceaseless talk-radio debates, would have been unrecognizable to Jackie Robinson. He no doubt would have been amazed by the sheer number of voices crashing into each other in our modern-day Babel, not to mention their volume. But there is at least one thing that hasn't changed in the 60 years since Robinson broke baseball's color barrier: The most hateful loudmouths are the ones that seem to make themselves heard above the din.
Issue date: May 5, 1997
There's something interesting about watching crowds of African-Americans follow Tiger Woods around Augusta National on Easter weekend. When Woods, the son of a black father and Thai mother, arrived on Tour, many of us in black America believed that he was going to be our golfing messiah. When his father, Earl, told SI in 1996 that his son was "the chosen one," we thought Tiger had come to save us, to show the way toward more opportunities to play the game and succeed in the golf industry.
WHEN EMMA FAUST TILLMAN died on Jan. 28, she left behind not only the title of oldest person in the world (at 114 years and 67 days) but also a legacy of entrepreneurship developed against long odd...
Some African Americans have had a profound impact on American society, changing many people's views on race, history and politics. The following is a sampling of African Americans who have shaped society and the world with their spirit and their ideals.
Through the years, members of America's armed forces have been court-martialed for bolting from the Battle of the Bulge, failing to zigzag a ship under attack, misplacing secrets that ended up in a Moscow newspaper and all manner of sexual misconduct.
Thanks to Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky's "The Experts Speak," we have three more nominations for the Bad Predictions Hall of Fame.
There are no second acts in American lives, only second lives in American ads: Ever more often the dead walk among us, Wearing Khakis, Just Doing It, generally Thinking Different. In the spirit of ...