Major League Baseball is perpetuating the very things thousands of Americans are overseas fighting to end, namely, racial discrimination and segregation.
--Wendell Smith, on Major League Baseball in 1942
Robinson, Smith, Duke Slater, and Ralph Metcalfe (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
Wendell Smith is the long unsung figure in the struggle for racial integration. Smith played a key role in the Jackie Robinson story, as portrayed in the film 42, but Smith's role in American life extended far beyond Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. While writing thousands of newspaper columns from 1937 to 1972, Smith became the first African-American member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the first African-American honoree of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, and the first African-American sportswriter to work for a white newspaper.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame holds a number of collections related to Wendell Smith and his contribution to American life, including the Wendell Smith Papers, donated by his widow Wyonella Smith. Several of these collections are made available here, so others may learn of Smith's life and legacy.
Portrait of Pittsburgh Courier newspaper sports writer Wendell Smith wearing fedora, striped suit, and ring, posed in interior with chair rail, c. 1938-1945. Photo by Charles "Teenie" Harris. Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art.