When the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” was released in theaters last month, many baseball fans may have gotten reacquainted with the racism that pervaded Major League Baseball for decades. Fans may think that the prejudice exhibited toward Robinson as depicted in the film was an archaic attitude that America turned the corner on with the Civil Rights Act in 1968. It’s not so. While no modern day player dealt with as much scorn as Robinson, some future greats were being labeled by their skin color as late as the 1970s and beyond.
Separate scouting reports filed by Rudy (Cobby) Saatzer on Dave Winfield in 1968 and 1973 use the terms “boy” and “colored” to describe the future Baseball Hall of Famer. The terms were not unusual in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but the racially-tinged vernacular was more common among the Archie Bunker-types and others whose usage was often condescending, if not pejorative. The words are, of course, nowhere near the level of hatred spewed at Robinson circa 1947, but they illustrate the residual insensitivity that remained in the national pastime long after he broke the color-barrier.
Other notable info on Saatzer’s 1968 and 1973 scouting reports on Winfield:
• Saatzer called Winfield “just a fair hitter.”
• Saatzer checked the “Yes” box under “Agressive.”
• Winfield’s habits were labeled “(Were) questionable, good now.”
• Saatzer noted Winfield was drafted in NBA, ABA and NFL, and praised his leadership.
• Saatzer said Winfield didn’t have “enough bargaining power in basketball to demand a larger bonus.”
View the reports for yourself below: