During infield practice the Redleg players were screaming at Jackie with all of the usual hateful epithets. And then the venom was distributed to Reese. They were yelling things at him like “How can you play with this (epithet)?”, as Jackie stood uncomfortably at first base. Pee Wee went over to him and put his arm around him and smiled. A silence fell over the Reds dugout and the fans witnessing this amazing act of grace, Jackie smiled back.

At Reese’s funeral, Joe Black, another Major League Baseball black pioneer, said:

“Pee Wee helped make my boyhood dream come true to play in the Majors, the World Series. When Pee Wee reached out to Jackie, all of us in the Negro League smiled and said it was the first time that a White guy had accepted us. When I finally got up to Brooklyn, I went to Pee Wee and said, ‘Black people love you. When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us.’ With Pee Wee, it was No. 1 on his uniform and No. 1 in our hearts.

Robinson later wrote this sentiment to Reese in a book inscription.

“Pee Wee whether you are willing to admit what you being just a great guy meant (a great deal) to my career, I want you to know how much I feel it meant. May I take this opportunity to say a great big thanks and I sincerely hope all things you want in life be yours.

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  • Notes: 794
  • Posted: 12 April 2013

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