Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, it’s that of Bill Mardo, who died last Friday at 88. Despite having vision in only one eye, he, along with a couple sportswriter colleagues at the Communist Daily Worker, saw that Major League Baseball teams should be employing black players and in columns encouraged fans to write in to their teams to urge them to integrate. The first team to do so, of course, was the hometown Brooklyn Dodgers, whose general manager, Branch Rickey, signed Jackie Robinson in 1945. Mardo (who plays a central role in Rebecca Alpert’s Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball) proceeded to cover his minor-league campaign with the Montreal Royals and his first season, 1947, when Robinson won Rookie of the Year. Years later, Martin Luther King, Jr., would tell early black Dodgers Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe, “[You] will never know how easy you made it for me to do my job.” We always knew that sports can change the world. Mardo’s story provides proof that even hacks can change sports.
Bill Mardo, Writer Who Pushed Baseball To Integrate, Dies at 88 [NYT]
Related: Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball [Oxford University Press]