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New Hampshire Baseball Quiz

QUESTION 8: What New Hampshire minor league team pioneered integration?

Roy Campanella (left) and Don Newcombe (right) at Nashua's Holman Stadium, 1946. Historical New Hampshire cover image courtesy of the Boston Globe.ANSWER: 1946 Nashua Dodgers

1946 was a watershed year for organized baseball. In that year, the Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, Branch Rickey, signed Jackie Robinson to a contract, admitting the first black to white baseball in 75 years. Less known, that same year Rickey signed two others -- Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe -- to join the Dodger family in Nashua.

When a Midwestern league made it clear that blacks were not welcome, Rickey contacted Buzzy Bavasi, then a young general manager with the Nashua Dodgers. Bavasi made it clear that his only interest was in a player's ability.

With support from people throughout Nashua and under the guidance of first year manager Walter Alston, Campanella and Newcombe thrived. "Campy" won the team's Most Valuable Player award, while Newcombe won 14 of 18 decisions. In subsequent years, both men have recalled with pleasure their season in Nashua. By its example, Nashua paved the way for other blacks who would join professional baseball over the next generation.

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New Hampshire Historical Society - Founded 1823