Monday, September 11, 2006

Dodger Mural in Nashua, NH

You never know what you're gonna find when you cruising through the internet. Over the weekend I stumbled upon this great photo from Nashua, NH. It is a mural recently painted to commemorate the the arrival of soon-to-be Dodger greats Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella in 1946.
In 1946...Branch Rickey desegregated the Dodgers by sending Jackie Robinson to Montreal AAA. Five months later, he opened a second phase by signing catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe. He had to send them to A ball because of their history as Negro League stars, but 3 of the 5 Dodger A teams were in segregated states. That left Danville, IL and Nashua, NH. Danville refused the 2 players, but Nashua GM Buzzie Bavasi said If they can play ball better than what we have, we dont care what color they are.
Starrgzr, the photographer if this piece, provides more historical information about their stay in Nashua.
Nashua, New Hampshire, according to Wendell Smith, was a typical New England town, quiet, liberal, and staid in its ways. Located forty miles north of Boston, Nashua residents seemed to have no qualms about welcoming the two black athletes. These people are wonderful, reported the ebullient Campanella. Newcombe and I go anyplace we want to, do anything we please, and are treated like long lost sons. Newcombe and Campanella and their wives constituted the entire black population of Nashua. They rarely saw the other blacks in the area, who lived at a lumber mill several miles outside of town. We even had to go to the white barber shop, recalls Newcombe. He didn't know how to cut black peoples hair. We got scalped many times by the barber who tried. He could have said No, I don't cut black peoples hair, but he tried. Bad haircuts, however, seemed a small price to pay. The two black families had no trouble finding lodgings and experienced no problems in restaurants or at the stadium. We were very lucky to play in that area, says Newcombe.
Photo Link: Flickr: Starrgzr:

Update II: Did you know that Roy Campanella was the 1st African-American to coach an affiliated Major League Team. NashuaPrice.com provides more details:
When Nashua manager Walter Alston was ejected from a game that year (1946), he left the team in the hands of Roy Campanella, who became the first African-American to manage an affiliated major league game. The Nashua Dodgers beat the Lawrence Millionaires 7-5.
Also,
there is another interesting note to the 1946 season. A local poultry farmer, Jack Fallgren, offered 100 baby chicks for every home run hit by a Nashua player. At the end of the season, Campanella shipped 1400 chicks to his father, who started a chicken farm outside of Philadelphia.
Update: If you happen to be in the area check out the mural. I believe it should still be there. It was completed less than a year ago.
This is just off Main Street at a tire company's (Maynard & Lesieur) building at 31 West Hollis Street. Maynard & Lesieur has been in business since 1928 and were around when the duo played in Nashua.


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