I like to celebrate Orioles history here at Roar from 34. It’s part of the blog’s “Humor. History. Homerism.” tagline. Given my affinity for the Orioles and the franchise’s history in Baltimore, I found Mike Klingaman’s recent story about Frank Robinson’s search for housing in the city during the days of segregation particularly compelling.
You’ll remember that Buck Showalter assigned prospect Josh Hart a one-page report on Frank Robinson two years ago after the young player admitted to not being familiar with the baseball legend who spoke at spring training in 2014.
Klingaman’s article, “Fifty years ago, Frank Robinson’s search for housing in Baltimore helped in ‘opening the door for others’,” isn’t the usual celebration of the Hall of Famer whose number is retired by the Orioles and who has a statue at Camden Yards. Rather, it presents the realities that Robinson faced in coming to Baltimore at the time that the city had a regrettable Civil Rights record.
In spite of his baseball accomplishments, Robinson in 1966 had to cope with the complicated day-to-day realities of a city that remained racially divided in many ways. Time and again, he and his family were denied housing in a number of all-white neighhborhoods. He couldn’t patronize most taverns in town. And his wife was rebuffed at a beauty shop whose female proprietor said, “If you were Mrs. Brooks Robinson, we could serve you.”
Read that line again: “If you were Mrs. Brooks Robinson, we could serve you.”
If you missed Klingaman’s article when it was first published, it’s worth a read now.