Nashua Dodgers 1946 Mural
Nashua is one of the lucky areas of this country that has had the privilege of being touched not only by one, but two baseball greats: Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe. We hope to pay tribute and recognize the efforts of these two men and of the righteous decision of the Nashua Dodgers to allow these two men to play the game of baseball. The next time youre at Holman, take the time to read the plaque commemorating the achievement of these men. The plaque is located at the front of the Pride Box Office. The citizens of Nashua can truly be proud.
IN 1946...Branch Rickey desegregated the Dodgers by sending Jackie Robinson to Montreal AAA. Five months later, he opened a second phase by signing catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe. He had to send them to A ball because of their history as Negro League stars, but 3 of the 5 Dodger A teams were in segregated states. That left Danville, IL and Nashua, NH. Danville refused the 2 players, but Nashua GM Buzzie Bavasi said, "If they can play ball better than what we have, we don't care what color they are."
Nashua, New Hampshire, according to Wendell Smith, was a typical New England town, quiet, liberal, and staid in its ways. Located forty miles north of Boston, Nashua residents seemed to have no qualms about welcoming the two black athletes. These people are wonderful, reported the ebullient Campanella. Newcombe and I go anyplace we want to, do anything we please, and are treated like long lost sons. Newcombe and Campanella and their wives constituted the entire black population of Nashua. They rarely saw the other blacks in the area, who lived at a lumber mill several miles outside of town. We even had to go to the white barber shop, recalls Newcombe. He didnt know how to cut black peoples hair. We got scalped many times by the barber who tried. He could have said No, I dont cut black peoples hair, but he tried. Bad haircuts, however, seemed a small price to pay. The two black families had no trouble finding lodgings and experienced no problems in restaurants or at the stadium. We were very lucky to play in that area, says Newcombe. On a short brick outfield wall in a very short left field are circles with the numbers 36, 39, and 42. The 42 is for Jackie Robinson; the 36 and 39 are for his future Dodger teammates Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella, who played here for the Nashua Dodgers in the late 1940s. (Robinson never played at Nashua; he spent the 1946 season at Montreal before being recalled to Brooklyn in 1947.)