Monday, July 30, 2012

Ed Stevens, 87, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman told the other side of the Jackie Robinson story

Ed Stevens
Ed Stevens was the starting first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946, finishing second on the team in home runs and was looking forward to cementing his feet in the first base position for years to come. Leaving spring training in Havana in 1947, Leo Durocher had penciled him in as their opening day starter, beating out five other first baseman in the process. Left with little time to glow in the fruits of his hard work, Stevens’ jubilee would quickly turn sour as the day before the season opener, Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey announced that Jackie Robinson, not Stevens would be their opening day first baseman. Not only was Stevens about to witness Robinson break baseball’s color line, he also saw his position wither away right in front of his eyes. “I would like to say that I realized the magnitude of the situation and happily stepped aside, accepting my role as the sacrifice in this incredibly significant moment in history. But the truth is, I was a competitor, and I was agitated. The fact remained coming out of spring training the starting first base job was mine, and the rug had been ripped out from under me,” said Stevens in his 2009 autobiography, “Big” Ed Stevens - The Other Side of the Jackie Robinson Story.

Stevens, who passed away last week at the age of 87 in Galveston, Texas, was more than a mere footnote in baseball’s most significant event. Click here to read more about the career of Stevens, who spent almost 50 years in baseball as a player, scout and coach.

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