The Bridge Builders

   The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates are turning back the clock to pay tribute to the stars of a bygone era.  For one night the Tribe and Bucs will wear uniforms of the Cleveland Buckeyes and the Homestead Grays out of respect for some of baseball’s greatest players, many of whom never got a chance to play in Major League Baseball.

   Josh Gibson, known by many as the "Black Babe Ruth", slugged nearly 800 homeruns in the Negro Leagues and was considered the greatest power hitter in black baseball.  Gibson actually got his start with Homestead when he came out of the stands to replace the Grays injured catcher in July of 1930.  Tragically, he died just 4 months before baseball was integrated by Jackie Robinson.

   Not long after Robinson debuted with the Dodgers, Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League with the Cleveland Indians.  Doby, a power hitting center fielder, helped the Indians win the World Series in 1948 and AL pennant in ’54.  Because Robinson was six weeks ahead of Doby, he was largely ignored by historians for his trailblazing efforts.  Former teammate Bob Feller once said of Doby, "He was a great American, he served his country in World War II, and was a great ballplayer.  He was kind of like Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, because he was the second African-American player in the majors."Doby_larry_3

   The contributions of players like Robinson, Doby and Satchel Paige helped scores of young African-American players who followed in their footsteps.  It reminds me of a poem I first read when I was in high school, titled "The Bridge Builder".

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you a bridge at the eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

  • Author: Will Allen Dromgoole

18 Comments

Hey Matt. I heard Tom and Mike talking about pitchers under 6 feet not making in the majors. It got remembering a tidbit I heard recently Whitey Ford is the only post-World War II-era pitcher in the Baseball Hall of Fame to stand under six feet tall. Intereslingly, though Pedro Martinez (who is as we know is also under 6 feet) just broke his record for the best winning percetage ever with 200 or more wins. I remember know where I saw and found it.It was a article on espn.com man named Ken Shoulder wrote it comparing 200 game winners.

shawn here how about Brooklyn Dodgers

shawn,
nice try…guess again.

Matt Underwood

the yankees

the white sox

indians

pirates

The Royals

st louis browns

st. louis cardinals

st louis browns i am serious

indians were my first choice but i taled myself out of it..dang it

Jeremy Sowers, where are you when we need you?

here is a wuestion for you can you name the pirates 1st Negro League player?

ok ok enough bashing me I am popular enough

look on the bright side i contribute other info too like that under 6 feet article…ha ha

Jeff Juden

Jerry Reilly

Dunkirk, NY

Hi Matt–

I really enjoy the many literary references in your posts. You must be very well read. Keep up the great work… and go Tribe!

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