I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.
Today, Negroes play on every big league club and in every minor league. With millions of other Negroes in other walks of life, we are willing to stand up and be counted for what we believe in. In baseball or out, we are no longer willing to wait until Judgment Day for equality – we want it here on earth as well as in Heaven.
There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.
Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.
Many people resented my impatience and honesty, but I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.
The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity.
I felt unhappy and trapped. If I left baseball, where could I go, what could I do to earn enough money to help my mother and to marry Rachel? The solution to my problem was only days away in the hands of a tough, shrewd, courageous man called Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.
I speak to you only as an American who happens to be an American Negro and one who is proud of that heritage. We ask for nothing special. We ask only that we be permitted to compete on an even basis, and if we are not worthy, then the competition shall, per se, eliminate us.
The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.
The black press, some liberal sportswriters, and even a few politicians were banging away at those Jim Crow barriers in baseball. I never expected the walls to come tumbling down in my lifetime.
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.
It would make everything I worked for meaningless if baseball is integrated but political parties were segregated.
Above anything else, I hate to lose.
After two years at UCLA, I decided to leave. I was convinced that no amount of education would help a black man get a job.
The old Dodgers were something special, but of my teammates overall, there was nobody like Pee Wee Reese for me.
If I had been white with the things I did, they never would have allowed me to get out of baseball.
How you played in yesterday’s game is all that counts.
I want everybody to understand that I am an American Negro first before I am a member of any political party.
During my life, I have had a few nightmares which happened to me while I was wide awake. One of them was the National Republican Convention in San Francisco, which produced the greatest disaster the Republican Party has ever known – Nominee Barry Goldwater.
The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.
It kills me to lose. If I’m a troublemaker, and I don’t think that my temper makes me one, then it’s because I can’t stand losing. That’s the way I am about winning, all I ever wanted to do was finish first.
A new breed of Republicans has taken over the GOP. It is a new breed which is seeking to sell to Americans a doctrine which is as old as mankind – the doctrine of racial division, the doctrine of racial prejudice, the doctrine of white supremacy.
When I look back at what I had to go through in black baseball, I can only marvel at the many black players who stuck it out for years in the Jim Crow leagues because they had nowhere else to go.
In all my years of baseball, I have always expected to be traded. I never liked the idea.
When I am playing baseball, I give it all that I have on the ball field. When the ball game is over, I certainly don’t take it home. My little girl who is sitting out there wouldn’t know the difference between a third strike and a foul ball. We don’t talk about baseball at home.
This ain’t fun. But you watch me, I’ll get it done.
I cannot possibly believe that I have it made while so many black brothers and sisters are hungry, inadequately housed, insufficiently clothed, denied their dignity as they live in slums or barely exist on welfare.
Blacks have had to learn to protect themselves by being cynical but not cynical enough to slam the door on potential opportunities. We go through life walking a tightrope to prevent too much disillusionment.
I had no future with the Dodgers, because I was too closely identified with Branch Rickey. After the club was taken over by Walter O’Malley, you couldn’t even mention Mr. Rickey’s name in front of him. I considered Mr. Rickey the greatest human being I had ever known.
I guess you’d call me an independent, since I’ve never identified myself with one party or another in politics. I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves, no matter what the party label.
I had practiced with the team, and the first scheduled game was with the University of Missouri. They made it quite clear to the Army that they would not play a team with a black player on it. Instead of telling me the truth, the Army gave me leave to go home.
Pop flies, in a sense, are just a diversion for a second baseman. Grounders are his stock trade.
In my opinion, baseball is as big a business as anything there is. It has to be a business, the way it is conducted.