Friday, July 2, 2010

Frank Duncan On Jackie's Time With The Monarchs

Frank Duncan, 1941 (source)

Frank Duncan, manager and catcher for the '45 Monarchs, had this to say to John B. Holway for his book Blackball Tales:

I remember when Jackie Robinson got out of the Army, came through here as a second lieutenant in 1945. We trained at a Texas League park, and Wilkinson, our owner, says, "Frank, Jackie Robinson'll be over here, he'll join you in a few days."

I said, "Fine." I'd never seen him play, I'd only seen him play one game of football, when the College All Stars played the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1941. When Jackie showed up,  I said, "Jackie, now tell me, what is your best position?"

He said, "Shortstop."

But I had Jesse Williams at shortstop, so I told Jackie, "You work out over there at second base with Serrell."

Jackie said, "I'm a little fat, I'm going to get some of the weight off me, I can do better."

I says, "You may have a different system of training, being a football player. You follow your own routine, I'll leave it up to you." And that's what he did.

Jackie wasn't the best player on the club. No, he wasn't. But you talk about running those bases--oh man. I told him, "You're on your own, Jack." I had Baldy Souell hit behind Jackie, because he was a darn good hitter. With Jackie on second base Souell on first, Jackie would make a break, and Souell thought he was going. I'd look up, Souell would be standing on second base, Jackie still on there. I says, "Where were you going?"

He says, "I thought Jackie was going."

I said, "I'm going to do you better than that, I'm going to put you in front of Jackie."

We played exhibitions all around New Orleans around Easter Sunday, and when we broke camp and got back up here (Kansas City), Robinson was in pretty good shape. By the time we got to New York, Washington, and Baltimore, those scouts were on him. I don't know how the Dodgers ever signed Jackie, but I know one thing: The Monarchs didn't get any money for him. Didn't get a dime. They lost money on that deal. Lost lots of money.

No comments:

Post a Comment