On Wednesday April 15th LCHS partnered with the University of Idaho for an evening listening to how race and religion collided with baseball in the middle of the 20th century. A panel of presenters was brought to the 1912 Center for an evening of reflection by two all star major league pitchers.
Vernon Law and James ‘Mudcat’ Grant both played professional baseball around the middle of the 20th Century. These two gentlemen stayed and spoke for about 90 minutes recalling some of the most interesting stories from their playing time. The panel was moderated by Dan Durbin of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Sports, Media and Society who is creating an oral history database of African-American baseball players who played in the 25 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.
The focus of the event was to hear about how race and religion affected the players. Vernon Law discussed how his religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) played a role with both the fans and fellow players as many fellow players tried to tempt him to test his religious beliefs. James ‘Mudcat’ Grant talked about the role of racism in baseball. Mudcat spoke about how other players and fans reacted to African-American baseball players in Major League Baseball. Many of Mudcat’s stories can be found in his book: The Black Aces: Baseball’s only African-American Twenty game Winners.
The two pitchers spoke for about an hour until they opened up the floor for questions. The pitchers answered all questions asked and were available after the event closed for further questions, signing autographs and taking pictures with the captive audience.
Latah County Historical Society would like to thank James ‘Mudcat’ Grant, Vernon Law and Dan Durbin for sharing their experiences with us. LCHS would also like to thank the University of Idaho for hosting this event and partnering with us.
Zachary Wnek Museum Curator Latah county Historical Society