The Boston Red Sox were legendarily the last major league baseball team to integrate, when infielder Pumpsie Green joined them in the late 50's ... AFTER I was born. As a kid, my Pumpsie Green card was one of my favourties. Nothing about Pumpsie being black, just loved the name.
Later, as a I grew older and became a little more aware of the importance of Green's presence ON that card, I formed an opinion of Boston as a hard place for black athletes. Sure, the Celtics were a tribute to Bill Russell, the Jones boys and Satch Sanders, but I just got the impression that Boston was as provincial as a Northern states city could get. Even when Russell got the head coaching job after Red Auerbach retired to the cigar-smoking section in the stands, I held fast to my notion.
Yesterday, talking to a New Englander, the subject came up. "Hmmmmmm," said my Bridge-playing friend. "Didn't Boston have the first black NHL player? Fellow by the name of O'Ree. Willie O'Ree I think. And you know Chuck Cooper broke the colour barrier in the NBA. You know, you can't paint us all with a tarbrush, when it was just the Red Sox management that was slow on the uptake."
And he was right. Sorry, Boston.