By Paul Kurtz
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new movie about Jackie Robinson opens in theaters across the country today. There are several scenes in which the Phillies are featured for the shameful way they treated the man who broke baseball’s color line.
The Phillies of 2013 are a world away from the racist regime that ran the team in 1947. Led by a manager who was born in Alabama, the Phillies gave Jackie Robinson the roughest ride of his rookie season.
Robinson’s Dodger teammate, Ralph Branca still has vivid memories. “Ben Champan, who was the manager of Philadelphia, he had leather lungs. You could hear him all over the ballpark. And he would be on Jackie’s case and say, “Hey boy, come over here. I need a shine. Hey boy, how come you not workin’ on a Pullman as a porter?”
Local author Rich Westcott says they delivered their first vicious volley at Ebbets Field in April then followed with another salvo a few weeks later in Philadelphia.
“The Phillies GM, Herb Pennock, had called Branch Rickey and said, I don’t want to use the words, but he said, ‘Don’t bring that guy here.’ ”
Rickey, played in the film by Harrison Ford, gave a blunt response: “What you do with your team is your decision, Herb. But my team is gonna be in Philadelphia tomorrow with Robinson, and if we have to claim the game as a forfeit, so be it. That’s 9-0.”