Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nice Card. Not A Nice Person.

I am down to my last few days of summer break.  It seems like school just ended, but my workdays start up again next week, and I have a new set of students in two weeks.  Still have a few more older Durham Bulls players to post before the new school year starts. 

My post today is actually a former manager of the Bulls Ben Chapman, who was a very good player with the 1930s Yankees.  Chapman is also one of the more infamous villains in the sport of baseball, whose notoriety has been renewed by a recently released movie.  The card is actually a coach card, but it is from one of the all-time great sets.

Love the 1952 Topps set.  

I picked this up at a small antique store while wandering the countryside during my break from school.  I actually had to go look this card up and make sure that there was not another Ben Chapman when I first saw this card.  Chapman looks young in the picture, I had my doubts that this was the same person.

This is well past his playing days, and also after his wildly unsuccessful stint as the manager of the Phillies during the late 1940s.  If you have ever seen the movie "42", he was the racist manager of the Phillies.  According to players from his era, Chapman could make "make Ty Cobb blush" with the level of trash talk he engaged in on the field.  Given the changing demographics of the game during that era, it's of little surprise that Chapman never got a Major League managing job after the Phillies fired him.   

The Reds hired him as a third base coach for the 1952 season, after he had managed a few years in the Minors.  The Bulls are not mentioned by name on the back of the coaches card, but he worked in Durham in between his stint with the Phillies and the Reds.  

Chapman did not last a full season coaching with the Reds.  He resigned in early August when Rogers Hornsby decided to manage and coach third base at the same time.  Chapman went on to spend the majority of his time after baseball selling insurance in Alabama.  

As for his attachment to Jackie Robinson, I think that perhaps Mr. Chapman learned to be a better person somewhere along the way. According to some different interviews and articles floating around, he was a different person later on in life.  He volunteered to talk to minority groups around Alabama about baseball, and seemed proud of the fact that he had raised his own children to have a different view point of the world than his own.  We can only hope.  

1 comment:

  1. I still haven't seen 42. I really should since I have such a deep admiration for Jackie Robinson. One thing I've learned about people (mainly myself) is that we mature with age. I know when I look back at some of the things I said (example to my parents) or choices I made as a kid... I would definitely do differently if I have the opportunity. I'm sure Mr. Chapman felt the same way as he got older.