(originally broadcast November 21, 1948)
|[It is hard to overestimate the symbolic importance of the integration of American major-league baseball accomplished in 1947 by Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers. This one act epitomized the advancement of Afro-Americans toward social acceptance based on talent and work. It stood as tangible proof of an improving African-American condition as promised in the battle against racism that had been World War II. In "The Rime of the Ancient Dodger" Durham was at his wistful, creative best. In the character of Sammy the Whammy—played rascalishly by Studs Terkel in the original broadcast—Durham employed verse and dialect conversation to deliver, less than two years after Robinson had broken the color bar, his hopeful message that one more step had been taken toward realization of a destiny in freedom that the radio dramatist felt to be inevitable.]|
ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom!
ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom, dramatizations of the great democratic heritage of the Negro people, brought to you by station WMAQ as a part of the pageant of history and of America's own Destination Freedom!
(MUSIC: Theme up and out)
ANNOUNCER: This week we tell the story of Jackie Robinson, famous star player of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in a chapter entitled "The Rime of the Ancient Dodger."
(SOUND: Downtown Brooklyn. Footsteps on close. Keep under following)
NARRATOR: (Distinctive, scholarly)
Through the neon jungles of Brooklyn, New York,
Walks Sammy the Whammy, an Ancient Dodger,
A man Brooklyn's barbers believe is dead.
But from his glittering eyes baseball fans live in dread.
He stalks the streets like a graveyard ghost
Hands outstretched like he's looking for a quarter
Inspecting the citizens from maids to the mayor
Till he spies a dame who's missed a game.
(Quick) And with his hairy mitt he grabs her collar
Then this earth-shattering question
He starts to holler—
SAMMY: (Not too ancient but with sharp Brooklyn attitude) Say, babe, didja see them Bums play today? Didja?
BABE: (Also Brooklyn. In a hurry) Naw, I ain't seen no game, papa. Uncollar me or I'll cuff ya.
SAMMY: (Cool) You mean you missed the Dodgers' game today?
BABE: Didn't I say so?
SAMMY: Didja mother die?
Didja have a stroke?
Or wuz you just flat broke?
BABE: Neither. I wuz gettin' married to Timothy Rodgers.
SAMMY: You mean you've gone an' divorced the Dodgers?
BABE: So what! Who in the devil are you to bother?
SAMMY: (Hates to tell her) Babe, I'm Sammy the Whammy.
BABE: Well, scrammy, Sammy!
SAMMY: Babe, I'm from the UN-Brooklyn Activities Committee.
Fer bein' so disloyal,
I could have you boiled in oil!
BABE: (Scared) Oh, if I hadda known I'da been there. Uncollar me, please, gimme air (wrenches his hands away).
NARRATOR: (Low, cool) The Ancient Dodger dropped his hand
But pinned on her his whammy eye Whose power made her pulses slow,
Made traffic stop, made night turn day
And the Babe had to hear what Sammy had to say.
SAMMY: (Incredible) You mean, woman, you didn't hear what the Dodgers did today?
BABE: (Scared to death) I—I ain't heard nothin'.
But I won't missa game no more.
Why did you pick out poor me?
SAMMY: (Cut in) I pass my days from game to game.
I gotta strange power of speech.
Whenever a square's face I see
I know that's the square that's booked to hear me.
Now Babe, be still and my tale I'll teach ya, free
Without a pence, without a single fee.
BABE: (Quake) Go ahead, old man, or the suspense'll kill me!
SAMMY: (Low, pause) With my own eyes, woman, I seen 'em do it.
SAMMY: (Profound, pointed) Them Dodgers, they outlawed the second strike!
SAMMY: Them Bums, they done it!
An' where were you?
BABE: You mean they've cut out "strike two"?
SAMMY: Like the liver outta a pig—they ripped out strike two.
When other teams balked, the Dodgers risked it!
BABE: Good gosh A'mighty, and to think I missed it!
SAMMY: Just be still, Babe, an' I'll put you wise.
I'll tell you what I seen with my whammy eyes.
Are those your knees I hear knockin'?
NARRATOR: The Brooklyn babe shook at hip
Like Leo Durocher's upper lip
When he beefs back at Umps and hacks.
But shake or quake she couldn't escape
The single and the one-half whammy
That came from the eyes of Brooklyn Sammy.
SAMMY: Hold still, Babe, here it goes! (Sound sneak in)
I wuz at Ebbets Field at my post in the bleachers,
investigatin' for Un-Brooklyn Activities.
I'm sittin' in the crowd, unseen, invisible,
watchin' the fans root for the boys like only the Dodger fans can do.
And what a show!
(SOUND: Coming in stronger baseball park sounds)
BABE: I know. I know. Well do I know!
SAMMY: It wuz a sight to see when the ump called 'em right.
You could hear 'em shout ten mile from the gate
When a ball wuz called that missed the plate.
(SOUND: Terrific sock as ball hits glove)
UMPIRE: A-b-a-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l t-o-o-o!
FANS: (Altogether and college) Y-a-a-a-a-a-a, ump!
Y-a-a-a-a-a, ump! Ump! Ump! Ump!
Ump! Y-a-a-a-a, ump!
SOPRANO: (Female high pitched) That's callin' 'em, ump! 'At's callin' 'em ump, ol' boy!
ALTO: (Cut in) You got eyes like a blessed cat, ump! You got eyes like a blessed cat!
TENOR: (Cut in) That ump's the best man on our team!
BASS: (Frog) Oh, I love that ump I I wouldn't harm a hair on that ump's head! Oh, I love that ump!
FANS: (Ad-libbing noisily under following)
SAMMY: (Well pleased) Lovely! Lovely! An' when the ump called it wrong—(SOUND: Sock of ball in glove)
UMPIRE: (Long drawn out roll) A-st-r-r-r-i-ke th-reee!
SAMMY: We had another song.
FANS: (Like an avalanche) B-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!
SOPRANO: (Female) Highway robbery! How mucha dey paying you?
ALTO: That wasn't nowhere near the plate! You louse! You loafer! You thief!
TENOR: (Cut into) If you're blind, git yourself a seem'-eye dog! Kill that ump!
BASS: (Moan) Where's my pistol! Will somebody go home an' get my pistol! Oh, please get my pistol!
SAMMY: (Pleased) Lovely, lovely, pleasant an' gentle,
True Brooklyn activities goin' on as usual.
Then it happened.
It starts when this new Dodger came to the plate.
LOUDSPEAKER: (PA system jargon) The next batter will be first baseman, Jackie Robinson!
SAMMY: There wuz umpires, umpires everywhere an' the pitcher hadn't thrown a ball.
But when this Robinson ups to the plate
Some ghostly umpire calls
(MUSIC: A ghostly sting)
UMPIRE: (Ghostly filter on echo) S-t-r-i-k-e a-t-o-o!
SAMMY: (Awe) Didja hear that! Didja hear 'im!
BABE: (Scared) Y—yea, I heard it.
SAMMY: But you didn't say nothin'. You wuz quiet, like the bleachers wuz.
Here wuz an' umpire callin' two strikes on a man before he gets to bat.
An' the bleachers wuz quiet like that.
Then my second sense started operatin'.
I put my whammy into action.
BABE: Please don't put it on me.
SAMMY: Be still, Babe, I put it on Jackie Robinson.
I gave him the double-reverse-flashback-whammy So I could see where this second strike came from. (Building) I tied my nerves an' my muscles together. An' threw my double whammy, not my triple mind you Just my (strain) double whammy!
(MUSIC: Drums and organ in a mad rhythmic montage. Fade very slowly. Then organ smooths out into "Chicago" and fades out)
SAMMY: And whadda you know, I'm in some foreign country, Chicago, seein' this guy Jackie Robinson in the year 1943. An' some citizens is out practicin' baseball.
BABE: Foreigners sure imitate us Brooklyners, don't they?
SAMMY: Yea. There I am in 1943, in Comiskey Park
An' this Jackie Robinson's workin' out with his team, The Kansas City Monarchs.
I'm lookin' around and guess who I see standin' near?
BABE: I ain't got the slightest idear.
SAMMY: Two of the scouts from our own beautiful Bums,
Clyde Sukeforth an' Taylor, a-watchin' Robinson working out.
(SOUND: Up training field sounds, balls batted, etc.)
SAMMY: An' every time Robinson gets near the plate—I hear this ump call—
UMPIRE: (Filter on echo) S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o-o. (Fade) S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o-o.
SAMMY: (Over fade) And I hear the scouts talking.
TAYLOR: (From the Bronx) Sure, Robinson got two strikes on him before he steps up to the plate. Any colored player who tries to crash the major league's got two strikes on 'im. That don't cut no ice.
CLYDE: (Southern, drawls) Yea, that's what they tell me, Taylor.
TAYLOR: Then make up your mind, Clyde. You been watchin' Robinson a week. You seen his history, didn't ja? This guy's been football, track, basketball champ at UCLA—
CLYDE: I read about it.
TAYLOR: You clocked his speed. You saw him steal second right offa the field.
CLYDE: I ain't seen him hit a good one yet.
TAYLOR: Keep watchin' him. He's up at bat now. Watch 'im. Watch this!
(SOUND: Ball struck off mike)
TAYLOR: There! It's goin', goin' over the wall! What'd I tell ya! An' watch 'im sail over those bases! Watch 'im go! How about it, Clyde? Is he good?
CLYDE: (Nods) He's good all right, Taylor. But will he go for the deal? That's the question!
TAYLOR: You never know until you put it to 'em—straight.
TAYLOR: (Call off) Hey Robinson! Will ya come over here a minute? (Aside) He's the one, Clyde. I'm tellin' you he—
ROBINSON: (Fade on) What's all the shouting about?
CLYDE: It's about a proposition we want to put to you. We're scoutin' for the Dodgers.
ROBINSON: Yea, so I've been told.
CLYDE: An' you look good.
TAYLOR: An' that ain't all.
CLYDE: You see, we know Negro players have been frozen outta the major leagues. We want a man who can crack the ice. Once it's cracked, it'll stay cracked. Besides, the guy who does it'll be on Brooklyn's team.
ROBINSON: I see. Is that the deal?
CLYDE: Part of it. Rickey's the boss. He'll tell you the other part—if you're interested.
TAYLOR: This is kinda sudden, but—
ROBINSON: (Slow) No, not so sudden. I been thinking about it a long time. But why'd you guys pick me?
CLYDE: (Slow) You look like the kind of player who could get a hit—even if you do start out with two strikes on you.
UMPIRE: (Echo filter) S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o-o!
(MUSIC: S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o!)
SAMMY: That's when my double whammy started showing me—where them two strikes come from. I see the scouts carry Robinson in to see Brooklyn's president, Branch Rickey. Rickey puts his cigar stub in the corner of' his mouth, squints his eyes, an' examines Robinson, like a pawnbroker lookin' over a gold watch. An' he give him the acid test
RICKEY: What do you think of Brooklyn, Robinson?
ROBINSON: (Indifferent) I got nothin' against it.
RICKEY: What do you think off Jim Crow?
ROBINSON: I'd like to knock the—
RICKEY: (Cut in) OK! I know whatcha mean. That's part of the proposition. Maybe you'll make it. Maybe you won't. I never seen you play; my scouts say you're OK. But for this we need a cool, quiet sorta fellow, one who can keep outta trouble an' not let razzin' get him. You know what I mean—
ROBINSON: (Slight pause) You mean a guy who won't fight back when he's shoved around.
RICKEY: (Cut in) If he knows anything about baseball—
ROBINSON: (Cut in) I know baseball, mister. It's a hard, aggressive game. You can't swing hard on your knees. You got to stand up and fight. That's the way I look at it (pause). I'm sorry if I'm not the man.
RICKEY: Who said you were not the man?
ROBINSON: Well, I thought you wanted—
RICKEY: Maybe I thought that too! You look different. Maybe you're right. It's going to be a long hard pull. It'll take a fighter to make it. You'll start out on the bottom on a farm team, Montreal. They train down in Sanford, Florida. Clyde'll take you down. Throw the ball around—limber up. Meet the townspeople. Shucks, can't tell, they may welcome you with open arms. (Fade) You can never tell about fans. You can never tell.
UMPIRE: (Filter on echo. Start it well over Rickey fade) S-t-r-i-k-e- t-o-o-o!
(MUSIC: S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o!! Fade out under)
SAMMY: That's what Rickey said, but there the ump wuz still callin' them strikes even before Jackie had gotten into a uniform. So, I wanted to see how he was makin' out, so I called up my triple whammy
BABE: Oh, not the triple whammy! Not that!
SAMMY: Yea, my triple whammy, so I could kinda look into the past an' see what kinda welcome the townspeople in Sanford were given' him. I screwed my noives, squinted my eyes, an' threw my triple whammy.
(MUSIC: Similar to double whammy, only more drastic and more play from the kettle drums. Then organ fades out playing "I Wish I Was in Dixie.")
BULL: (On soapbox coming up over fade) An' I say, good folks of Sanford, we should welcome this Nigra baseball player in the traditional way. Teach 'em to respect our customs an' laws.
TOWNSMEN: (Group cheers and ad-lib
"That's what I say,"
"Ain't it the truth,"
"Tell 'em, Bull, tell 'em.")
BULL: It's those carpetbagger organizations, like Brooklyn, that sends him down here.
TOWNSMEN: ("That's what I say," "Tell 'em.")
BULL: It's those communist-front organizations, like the North.
TOWNSMEN: ("Tell 'Em, Tell 'Em.")
BULL: Then are we gonna let 'em soil the lily-white name of our fair city?
TOWNSMEN: (Answer in chorus, "No, no," etc.)
BULL: Then run this Jackie Robinson outta town! Let's pertect the fair name of baseball from un-American invade-us.
TOWNSMEN: (Cheer him and fade very very slowly down underneath following)
SAMMY: I could see right off the welcome was going to be hot. I looked through the fence of the practice park where Robinson was hittin' the ball about, until the coach called him over. (Fade) The coach wuz worried.
CLYDE: Say Jackie—
(SOUND: Ease in under sound of ball and bat practice)
JACKIE: (Off) Yea?
CLYDE: (Doesn't know how to say it) The chief wants you to pack your things. We're movin' to the next town.
ROBINSON: (Slow) The team just got here.
CLYDE: They're stayin'. They'll be along later. How soon can we get packed?
ROBINSON: Half hour, if it's urgent.
CLYDE: It's urgent, all right. I'll be waitin' in the car.
(MUSIC: S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o and under)
SAMMY: An' there wuz Jackie Robinson goin' off the field he'd just got on, gettin' in the car an' ridin'. . .
(SOUND: Car running)
SAMMY: ... past men on the corner. An' it looked like they wuz wavin' at him.
ROBINSON: (Chuckling) Say, these guys got know me already. They're wavin' at me.
CLYDE: (Uneasy) Yea, they're wavin' at you all right.
ROBINSON: (Effort) Let me roll down the window. I'll wave back.
CLYDE: (Sharper) Keep the window up an' sit back in the car!
ROBINSON: (Snap back) What's wrong with answering a friendly wave?
CLYDE: A friendly wave! That's the town's white supremacy committee! They won't let Negro players stay here overnight, an' they're gettin' their mob together. That's why we're leavin'. We'll try the next town.
UMPIRE: (Filter on echo) S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o!
(MUSIC: Imitate and fade)
SAMMY: Yea, the ump wuz still callin' em wrong, but this Robinson ain't easy to strike out. That ghostly umpire kept callin' two strikes, but this Robinson usually got ahold of the third one, like that time in Florida.
(SOUND: Terrific smack. Reaction from the fans. Keep under)
SAMMY: (Like an announcer) When he hit a long line drive into center field! It's goin'— goin'—it smacks against the center field wall. Robinson's roundin' first, second, he's crossin' third, he's gonna try to stretch it into a homer! He's cumin' into home! Here comes the throw! Robinson slides across the plate an' it looks like he's safe! Safe!
(SOUND: Runner slides across the plate)
SAMMY: (Unsure) No, there's a man out there in a blue uniform, from another team I guess, pickin' Jackie up outta the dust. Maybe he ain't safe. Cause I hear 'em sayin'—
THE LAW: Now get up an' get outta here! You hear me?
TEAM: (Ad-lib "Hey he's safe," "I saw him," etc.)
THE LAW: (Cut over) He ain't safe if he don't get outta this park!
ROBINSON: (Getting up) Get your hands off me; you're not the umpire!
THE LAW: Naw—I'm the law! The law says you don't play here.
CLYDE: (Fade on) Say, what's the matter officer? He didn't do nothin' wrong.
THE LAW: You been told before, we tellin' you agin, Negro an' whites playin' on the same field in this state's punishable by law. Now, is he agittin', or am I usin' my stick?
CLYDE: (Soft, aside) Robinson, sit over there on the bench while I straighten this out
THE LAW: Naw, he won't sit there either—
CLYDE: What are you talkin' about?
THE LAW: The law says whites an' Negroes can't sit together, team or no team. Now git outta here.
ROBINSON: Get your hands off me!
CATCHER: (Fade on) Yea, take your hands off him, you lug!
PITCHER: (Fade on) He's on the team, an' he stays on the team! Let him go!
TEAM: (Fade on ad-libbing "Get outta here," etc.)
CLYDE: (Cut in) Hold it! Hold it, boys! (Wait till they simmer down) Go back to yer benches this time. We're movin' to another town. The team stays the same.
CATCHER: How long are we gonna stand by lettin' screwball cops push our teammate around?
OTHERS: (Ad-lib "Yea, how long," etc.)
CLYDE: (Pleased) Not very long now. When you guys all get together the way you're doin' now, an' backin' up your teammate, the days of these lugs who prop up these phoney laws are numbered. Tell the ump to call the game. We'll move on.
UMPIRE: (Filter on echo) S-t-r-r-r-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o! (MUSIC: S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o)
SAMMY: That ump wuz still callin''em, but still hadn't struck out this Robinson yet. Like the time he an' the coach went to the stadium in Jacksonville an' found a guard jigglin' the keys—
(SOUND: Bunch of keys jiggled, pulling at a heavy locked door)
CLYDE: (Fade on) Open this door, mister. We'll be late for the game!
GUARD: There ain't gonna be no game, fellows.
CLYDE: Who says so?
GUARD: These keys say so. The mayor's orders. Is this that Robinson fella?
ROBINSON: I'm Robinson.
GUARD: Jest wanted to take a look at you. The Bureau of Recreation won't let the game be played because you're on the team. No use lookin' inside.
ROBINSON: Say, take a look, coach. It's full of people.
CLYDE: (Satisfaction) Well, well, well!
GUARD: They didn't know we'd call off the game. What you guys smilin' at?
ROBINSON: There's an overflow crowd. It means it's the politicians who're against us, riot the people.
GUARD: Whut's the difference?
CLYDE: This'll make quite a bit a difference, buddy, quite a bit.
SAMMY: And the more they played, the more the difference began to count. People kept pourin' into the parks, an' Robinson was hittin' 'em steady an' playin' the infield like Ty Cobb usta. He wuz fightin' so hard to fill that gap in the Dodgers' lineup an' he didn't know he was wearin' his arm out.
(SOUND: Under above, slip in sound of training field)
SAMMY: Throwin' an' catchin' an' scoopin' 'em up too fast an' too much until a ball wuz hit his way that dropped from his hand when he tried to throw it.
TEAM: (Ad-lib reactions)
CATCHER: Hey, whatcha droppin' it for, Jackie? Pick it up! Throw it!
PITCHER: Get rid of the ball! Get rid of the ball!
TEAM: (Ad-lib "Throw the ball, will you!" etc.)
SAMMY: But he can't throw it. He can't even lift it up. His arm swings around like its outta socket. "They take him off the field. The coach looks him over—
CLYDE: (Worried) Let's see that arras.
ROBINSON: (In pain) Oh.
CLYDE: Pretty bad. We're gettin' near the home stretch, an' they'll be pickin' players for the Dodgers. You gotta make it. Take some days off; see if the arm'll heal. Rickey'll be down in a week an' look you over. You got to get yourself back in the lineup before the season's over.
(MUSIC: Strike two)
SAMMY: I remember the bolds wuz beginnin' to go north. An' this Robinson's arm still hasn't healed. He couldn't throw from shortstop to first. Then Brooklyn's Rickey came down an' took him out on the field (sound emerge here).
RICKEY: What position you tryin' out for, Jackie.
ROBINSON: Shortstop. But I can't get the ball over to first base anymore.
RICKEY: (Speculative) If you were on first base, you wouldn't have very far to throw, would you?
ROBINSON: No, but I never played first base
RICKEY: You're goin' to play it now. Gimme the glove. A million buzzards are waitin' for you to stumble. Now—watch—you play just far enough off the bag to keep both sides covered. But you've got to get that arm workin'. You got to.
(SOUND: Crack and thuds as balls are hit and caught under above)
SAMMY: An' slowly he got the arm workin' again an' pulled himself back into the lineup, stretched for the wild ones off first base 'til Rickey noticed an' said—
RICKEY: OK, Jackie. You're gettin' set. This farm team's goin' to play a few games against the Dodgers. Think you call make it now?
ROBINSON: Feel pretty sure I can make it. One thing
ROBINSON: I've been watchin' the catchers
ROBINSON: Only a few of 'em can whip a ball down to second base faster than I can steal it.
RICKEY: What are you leadin' up to?
ROBINSON: Let me run bases the way I want to. Let me steal all the bases I can.
ROBINSON: Course I'll get caught sometimes.
RICKEY: (Shrug) Ty Cobb got caught sometimes, didn't he? OK. Be smart an' cagey, but don't be reckless. If the record looks good by April—
RICKEY: Well, we'll see.
SAMMY: An' the season rolled around, an' it came time for the reckonin'. Rickey called his staff in. He got down to the point.
(SOUND: Typewriters going underneath)
RICKEY: Clyde? Shotton? Taylor, ok, how about it?
TAYLOR: You mean Robinson?
RICKEY: Naturally. You guys been watchin'—
CLYDE: Who hasn't?
RICKEY: OK, it's April. How's Robinson doin'? Let's have it.
CLYDE: Well, suppose we let the record talk, chief?
RICKEY: Let it talk.
TAYLOR: For a man who's had two strikes on him before he gets to the plate, he's doin' all right.
CLYDE: (Cut in) In the International League he's got the record for stolen bases. He's hittin' at .360, an' on runs batted in, he's ahead there, too. TAYLOR: An' will you take a look at these attendance records? (Pause) What do you think it means?
RICKEY: (Pause) I'm thinkin' it means people are sick and tired of race discrimination in sports. I think it means if a guy's good enough to stop a bullet on a battlefield, he's good enough to stop a line drive in Ebbetts Field. (Slower) I'm thinkin' we ought to steal a march on the other teams—
CLYDE: What do you mean, chief?
RICKEY: Let's move him up to the Dodgers now. He spark-plugged the minor league, lie can spark-plug this one. We've got to win that pennant this year. OK?
CLYDE: Sure chief, but
RICKEY: But what?
CLYDE: Some of the major league boys say they'll strike against the Dodgers if Robinson's on the team. Some guys on our own team say they won't stick.
RICKEY: Sayin' it's one thing—doin' it's another. Sure, might be a strike—but a guy who's beat the odds with two strikes against him won't be scared if another's called. Let 'em strike. It'll test the whole base of our baseball leagues. Brooklyn's ready. (Up) Miss Hill?
HILL: (Stops typing) Yes, Mr. Rickey?
RICKEY: Put through that call to Jackie Robinson. Give him the message.
HILL: Yes, sir.
(SOUND: Dialing, dial clicks)
(MUSIC: Slither over with a wavy strike two for transition as she's dialing)
(SOUND: Phone ringing, off cradle)
HILL: (Filter) Mr. Rickey says would you like to come down and sign your contract with the Dodgers?
ROBINSON: (Awake) What? Will you say that again?
HILL: (Fade slow) I said, would you like to come down (off) and sign your contract with the Dodgers?
(SOUND: Slip under and keep sound of subway)
SAMMY: An' the news got around, an' it wuz the talk of the town. An' on the subway a brave Brooklynite would look over the shoulder of a brave Bronxite, an' one wuz sure to say
BROOKLYN: (Urgent) Say chum, when are youse gonna toin the page? I finished Dick Tracy.
BRONX: (Excessively polite) Oh yes sir, an' just what page would pleasure you most?
BROOKLYN: Cut the comedy an' get the sports. I wanna see what the Dodgers done.
BRONX: Ain't you hoid?
BROOKLYN: Naw, I been outta touch with things.
BRONX: (Cut in) Well, look here on the front page. See what them Bums gone an' done!
BROOKLYN: (Cut in) A sonofagun! They signed up Jackie Robinson!
BRONX: Oh, them crazy Dodgers!
BROOKLYN: (Snap) What's crazy about 'em? The Constitution of Brooklyn says every citizen's got the God-given right to play baseball!
BRONX: Awww, this Jackie Robinson won't last two days in the majors!
BROOKLYN: Sez you!
BRONX: Sez me! (In) Say, don't you wave your finger in my face!
BROOKLYN: Then get your finger outta my face! Take back what you said about the Bums!
BRONX: Ow! My eye! Ow!
BROOKLYN: That'll teach you to talk about the Bums behind their back. Ow! Stop kickin'!
BOTH: (Ad-lib furiously as they scuffle, plus voices from other passengers)
SAMMY: An' the fightin' went over Flatbush an' the Bronx—while Robinson kept runnin' the bases an' takin' the razzin' an' the cold shoulder, 'til in Pittsburgh he ran smack into the warm shoulder of first baseman, Hank Greenberg.
(SOUND: Two men collide)
SAMMY: An' the two first basemen picked each other up an' the Pirate said—to the Dodger—
GREENBERG: (Low) Say—how you doin', Jackie?
ROBINSON: Like Lincoln said: If it wasn't for the honor, I'd just as soon give it up.
GREENBERG: Stick it out. Some of 'em gave me the business when I first made the majors. But I beat the odds. I'm Jewish. Stick it out!
(MUSIC: Strike two)
SAMMY: An' this Robinson was stickin' it out when the strike that was supposed to be "strike three" was thrown. One major league team had gotten together—
TEAM: (Ease under and keep ad-libs and mutters)
SAMMY: Before the big game at Ebbetts Field. The windup was in the making
TEAM: (Fade in ad-libbing in argument: "I'm not playing," "I wouldn't go out on the field," "I'm not standin' for it," etc.)
LEADER: (Over others) An' like I was saying, we got to stop this thing 'fore they bring in more colored! We're not goin' out on that field unless they fire Robinson! What do you guys say?
TEAM: ("Yea, that's what I say," "Stop the ball game," etc.)
LEADER: (Over others) Baseball's done all right for years without colored in it. I say let's keep it that way.
TEAM: (Ad-lib reaction as previous. "That's what I say," "Let's strike, let's strike," etc.) (SOUND: Not too indistinct door opens off mike under above)
FIELDER: (Up, over others) Say, here comes the chief. Here's the league president.
LEADER: Come on in, chief. We've been waitin' to hear from you. You got our message?
TEAM: (Quiet down)
CHIEF: (Fade on) I did. Well, fellows, so there's going to be a baseball strike against another team's player?
LEADER: You're right. We're not goin' on the same field with Robinson. The team's decided—
CHIEF: (Cut in) Team decided! And what do you think about the people, the fans out there? What have they decided? (Pause. Terse and hot) Let me tell you something. If you strike, you'll be striking not just against Robinson, but against them. And against them, you can't win.
LEADER: Now listen—!
TEAM: (Ad-lib reaction)
CHIEF: You listen to me, all of you! We call our baseball "World Championship Ball"! The world's made up of more teams than one, more races than one! Baseball can't have pickpockets among its players. What you're about to do is to pick a player's pocket, rob him of a job! You can't win. Every fan in Flatbush is backing Robinson, an' they're right! Brooklyn says there's not going to be any more guys startin' out with two strikes against 'em. They're outlawing the second strike! (Pause) That's all I got to say, except, think this thing over. What you decide to doll decide the history of baseball. The fans are way ahead of you. Think it over.
TEAM: (Slight pause and then murmurs slowly fade out)
SAMMY: The boys thought it over a long time. Then from where I'm sittin' in the bleachers, I saw 'em come out on the field an' take their places. Then Jackie comes to bat again, an' I hear this ump—
UMPIRE: (Echo and filter) S-t-r-i-k-e t-o-o-o!
SAMMY: (Hurriedly) An' the bleachers is still quiet! I see that they haven't been told that strike two's outlawed. So I get ready to throw my quadruple whammy to awaken 'em
BABE: Good Lord, not the quadruple! Sammy, not the quadruple!
SAMMY: (Sad, but it's true) Yea, Babe, the quadruple whammy had to be thrown. (Strain) So I screw myself up—looked at the ump, an' threw it!
(MUSIC: The most drastic whammy ever heard. A cold pause follows)
SAMMY: Then I listen to the ump an' he's correcting himself!
UMPIRE: (Filter on echo) No s-t-r-i-k-e-s, no b-a-1-1-s. Batter up!
SAMMY: (Gracious) An' naturally, since he called it right, Brooklyn gave the ump his due.
FANS: (Altogether and chaotic) Y-a-a-a-a-a-a-a ump! Y-a-a-a-a-a ump!
SOPRANO: (Female, high. pitched) That's callin' 'em, ump! 'At's callin' 'em, ump, ol' boy!
ALTO: (Cut in) You got eyes like a blessed cat, ump! You got eyes like a blessed cat!
TENOR: (Cut in) That amp's the best man on our team! Y-a-a-a-a-a ump!
BASS: Oh-h-h, I love that ump! I wouldn't harm a hair on that ump's head! Oh, I love that ump!
SAMMY: Lovely! Lovely! The Bums had outlawed that second strike! So you see, Babe, we may have a tree or two growin' in Brooklyn, but we won't have no big-o-tree, we insist!
BABE: Good gosh Almighty, to think that's what I missed! (Almost weeps) I got a good notion to divorce Timothy Rodgers and just be married to the Dodgers.
SAMMY: Now go your way, Babe, an' if anybody asks who is Sammy the Whammy, just tell 'em the same story that I just told to you.
NARRATOR: (Pause) And the bride went off like one that's been stunned
And in the neon jungle she felt forlorn
But a most hep and a wiser Babe
She rose the morrow morn!
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard Destination Freedom's dramatization "The Rime of the Ancient Dodger," the story of Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson, brought to you by station WMAQ.