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Quebec and the Integration of Baseball: Part 1, Jackie Robinson in Montreal (*Excerpt from Quebec Heritage News)

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“It is ironical that America, supposedly the cradle of democracy, is forced to send the first two Negroes in baseball to Canada in order for them to be accepted.”

-Chicago Defender editorial, April 13, 1946.

larger_robinson.jpegManny McIntyre, a black athlete who excelled at both baseball and hockey and was prominent in Quebec sporting circles during the 1940s, passed away on June 13, 2011. His death came almost 60 years to the day when he first stepped onto the playing field at Sherbrooke’s Stade du Parc as a member of the Sherbrooke Canadiens, a baseball team in the newly formed Class C Border League, and became one of the first half-dozen black players, and the first Canadian, to traverse Organized Baseball’s demonic colour barrier. Regardless of his other accomplishments, and they were many, McIntyre will always be remembered as a courageous baseball pioneer who successfully cracked through an impenetrable, albeit invisible, barrier, one so hostile it had prevented men of colour from playing baseball at the organized level ever since the game’s early development.

Indeed, the year 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the integration of professional baseball in America. When Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play a regular game on an otherwise all white diamond, entered his first game wearing a Montreal Royal’s uniform in April of 1946, he established a precedent and opened a door that could never again be closed. The integration of baseball had begun...

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The complete version of this article appeared in Quebec Heritage News, Vol. 6, Number 2, Summer 2011. For back issues of Quebec Heritage News, or to order a subscription to this magazine, call QAHN at (819) 564-9595, or at home@qahn.org.

Bill Young, a former school teacher and principal, is a founding director of the Greenwood Centre for Living History in Hudson; he is also a historian of baseball and a columnist for the West Island Gazette.