NEW YORK (UPI)— The telephone in Jackie Robinson’s home was cut off immediately after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
It was no accident. Robinson shut it off himself. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. Not until he could compose himself anyway.
It is now five days since a furtive sniper senselessly ended the life of the Negro leader and Robinson has had time to collect his thoughts.
The man who broke baseball’s color line and eventually entered its Hall of Fame did not always agree with Dr. Martin Luther King , and admits it, but he leaves no doubt how he felt personally about the slaying and subsequent turmoil.
Q. What was your first reaction to the killing?
A. Initially it was tremendous shock and disbelief.
Q. And then?
A. My next reaction was one of retaliation and anger.
Q. What is your reaction now five days later?
A. My feeling is the killer has to be apprehended rapidly. Some action must be taken in this regard.
Q. How would you compare the progress of the Negro in sports to his progress in other fields?
A. There’s no question he has made greater progress in sports, particularly in baseball. However, I must be honest in saying it’s a temporary thing for as long as a fellow can play baseball. Once that’s over with, he’s through. I think it’s a tragedy that baseball is still wallowing around in the 19th century saying Negroes can’t manage white ballplayers.
Q. You disagree, of course?
A. Decidedly and vigorously.
- Milton Richman, UPI
Read the rest*: Sports Parade (April 9, 1968)
* Includes Robinson’s frank answers to questions regarding which African Americans were qualified for management and front office work in 1968, and on his beef with Willie Mays.