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Lester Rodney helps break baseball's color barrier

December 24, 2009 |  5:29 pm


Lester Rodney, the sports editor and columnist for the American Communist Party newspaper the Daily Worker, gained late-in-life recognitionfor his crusade in the 1930s and `40s to end segregation in major league baseball.

Rodney, who died Dec. 20 at age 98, was shunned by some fellow sportswriters because he was a Communist. But as a sports writer, he was known for having good relationships with many baseball players -- as well as with Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher.

In an interview for Irwin Silber's 2003 biography of him, "Press Box Red," Rodney recalled that while discussing strategy with Durocher after a game, "Leo leans over to me, grabs my arm, and says, 'You know, Rodney, for a . . . Communist, you sure know your baseball.' "

-- Dennis McLellan 

Photo: In a 2004 photo, Lester Rodney holds a handful of press credentials he kept from past World Series games he covered. Credit: Kim Kulish / For The Times