THE GAME THAT CHANGED HISTORY

February 27, 2019 at 4:45 am

“A 1955 Baseball Story” that was a “Long Time Coming.” In an era when racial segregation defined the south, 2 little league teams, one black and one white, stepped onto the field and helped change the game forever. More than 60 years later, the players reunite to discuss the momentous game.

Aired on February 26, 2019. 

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>>> MORE THAN 50 YEARS AGO,
RACIAL DESEGREGATION DEFINED THE
SOUTH.
IN THE MIDST OF THIS
DISCRIMINATION, TWO LITTLE
LEAGUE TEAM OF 12-YEAR-OLD BOYS
STEPPED OUT ON THE FIELD IN A
NONVIOLENT ACT OF CULTURAL
DEFIANCE.
FLORIDA'S 1955 FLORIDA STATE
CHAMPIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ALL
BLACK TEAM AND THE ALL WHITE
TEAM BROKE WITH TRADITION AND
SHOWED THE WORLD WHAT WAS
RESPONSIBLE BREAKING THE COLOR
LINES IN YOUTH SPORTS.
TAKE A LOOK.
>> BASEBALL IS THE MOST
IMPORTANT SPORT IN AMERICA.
AND IF WE CAN INTEGRATE
BASEBALL, WE CAN INTEGRATE
AMERICA.
>> THEY JUST LIVED IN A CERTAIN
PART OF TOWN AND WE LIVED IN THE
OTHER SIDE OF TOWN.
YOU DIDN'T THINK ABOUT IT.
>> WHEN I GOT INTO LITTLE LEAGUE
BASEBALL, I FELT FREE.
>> THEY REFUSED TO PLAY US,
BECAUSE WE WERE BLACK AND THEY
WERE WHITE.
>> DO NOT SEND THOSE BLACK BOYS
HERE, OR THEY WILL COME BACK IN
A CASKET.
>> THAT'S WHEN ALL HELL BROKE
LOOSE.
>> NOBODY SHOULD TAKE YOUR
DREAMS AWAY FROM YOU.
ESPECIALLY A KID.
>> THE ONLY THING WE'RE DOING IS
PLAYING BALL.
AND THAT WAS THE SPIRIT OF ALL
OF US.
TO PLAY BALL.
>> HERE TO TELL US MORE IS BILL
HUDSON AND REVEREND FREDDIE
AUGUSTINE.
BOTH WERE PLAYERS FROM THAT GAME
WERE FEATURED IN THE FILM.
WELCOME TO YOU BOTH.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
>> SO FIRST FOR THOSE OF US,
ESPECIALLY MYSELF INCLUDED, TAKE
US BACK TO FLORIDA 1955.
WHAT WAS THE CULTURE OF LIFE
LIKE FROM THE EYES OF A CHILD?
>> IT WAS A GREAT TIME, TO BE
HONEST WITH YOU.
I THINK I GREW UP IN THE BEST
TIME OF MY LIFE, LITERALLY AT
THAT AGE.
BUT IT WAS VERY SEGREGATED.
IT WAS -- A LINE WAS DRAWN, THIS
IS BLACK, THIS IS WHITE.
AND THE BLACKS LIVED IN A
CERTAIN PART OF TOWN, THE WHITES
LIVED IN ANOTHER.
EVERYBODY GOT ALONG, BUT THERE
WAS NO MIXING AT ALL BETWEEN US.
FOR INSTANCE, I NEVER WENT TO
PUBLIC SCHOOL WITH A BLACK
STUDENT.
>> WOW.
>> THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL.
>> REVEREND, WHAT WAS THE
EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU?
>> DURING THAT TIME, IT WAS
GREAT.
ALMOST TO WHAT IS COMPARED TO
THE DAY, WE KNEW WHERE OUR
TERRITORY WAS.
AND WE STAYED THERE.
WE NEVER HAD ANY TROUBLE, YOU
KNOW, WITH WHITES.
BUT WE WOULD -- EVEN THOUGH WE
DIDN'T GO TO SCHOOL TOGETHER,
BUT WE ALWAYS PLAYED AGAINST
EACH OTHER DURING THE WEEKEND.
WE HAD PLACES THAT WE WOULD MEET
AND PLAY.
SO IT WAS JUST THAT WE DIDN'T GO
TO SCHOOL TOGETHER.
BUT WE ALWAYS PLAYED SPORTS.
SO I OFF SAY THAT SPORTS HAS
DONE MORE TO INTEGRATE SOCIETY
THAN ANY OTHER ENTITY IN THE
WORLD, INCLUDING THE CHURCH.
>> I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD
DEFINITELY AGREE WITH THAT
POINT.
BUT CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT
YOU HAD THIS ENVIRONMENT WHERE
EVERYONE WAS KEPT SEPARATE
EXCEPT FOR WHEN PLAYING INFORMAL
GAMES.
WHAT WAS -- HOW DID YOU REACT
WHEN YOU FOUND OUT THAT YOU
WOULD BE PLAYING THE STATE
CHAMPIONSHIP THAT WAS GOING TO
BE SO CONTROVERSIAL?
>> WE DIDN'T CARE.
WE WERE KIDS.
WE JUST WANTED TO PLAY BALL.
I MEAN, IT DIDN'T BOTHER US ONE
WAY OR THE OTHER.
THE ADULTS WERE THE PROBLEM.
THE KIDS JUST WANTED TO PLAY
BALL.
WE DIDN'T CARE IF THEY WERE
GREEN, BLUE, WHITE, BLACK, IT
DIDN'T MATTER.
>> THE FILM DOES GET INTO SOME
OF THE UGLINESS.
AS CHILDREN, WAS ANY OF THAT
FRIGHTENING OR JUST NOT REGISTER
BECAUSE YOU WERE FOCUSED ON
PLAYING BALL?
>> YOU'RE RIGHT, DURING THAT
TIME IT DIDN'T.
WE JUST WANTED TO MAY BASEBALL.
-- PLAY BASEBALL.
AS A RESULT, BILL AND THEM
ACCEPTING US, WE GOT A CHANCE TO
PLAY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT
GAMES IN LITTLE LEAGUE THAT'S
EVER BEEN PLAYED.
IT WAS A TIME WHEN AN ALL-BLACK
TEAM FROM PENSACOLA, FLORIDA,
TRAVELED TO ORLANDO TO PLAY AN
ALL-WHITE TEAM.
WHAT AN AWESOME EXPERIENCE.
>> SPEAKING OF AWESOME
EXPERIENCES, I UNDERSTAND THAT
THE TEAMS GOT A CHANCE TO COME
BACK TOGETHER AGAIN SOME SIX
YEARS LATER.
MAYBE NOT RUNNING AS FAST, BUT
STILL --
>> KIND OF SLOW.
>> BUT YOU GOT TO PLAY TOGETHER
AGAIN.
I'M WONDERING, GIVEN EVERYTHING
THAT'S TRANSPIRED SINCE THEN, IN
NOT ONLY YOUR PERSONAL LIVES BUT
THE COUNTRY, TO GATHER AGAIN ON
THE FIELD, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
>> WELL, IT WAS AWESOME.
IT WAS AWESOME, BECAUSE I
BELIEVE THAT WE BONDED WITH
THOSE GUYS IN 1955.
WHEN WE HAD A CHANCE TO DO OUR
FIRST SHOOTING IN 2016, WHEN
THEY CAME FROM ORLANDO TO
PENSACOLA, IT WAS AWESOME WHEN
WE MET AT THE PITCHER'S MOUND,
THEY CAME FROM THE THIRD BASE
SIDE, WE CAME FROM THE FIRST
BASE SIDE.
IT WAS ABOUT HUGGING AND CRYING,
AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS, WHERE
IS THIS GUY, WHERE IS THAT GUY.
IT WAS AWESOME.
I MEAN, IT WAS ASTRONOMICAL.
>> SO WAS THE REBONDING.
IT REALLY WAS.
IT WAS JUST LIKE WHEN WE WERE 12
YEARS OLD.
IT DIDN'T MATTER WHETHER THEY
WERE BLACK OR WHITE, WE ALL GOT
TOGETHER AND HUGGED EACH OTHER.
IT WAS GREAT.
IT WAS FANTASTIC TO BE TOGETHER.
>> SO WHAT I'M HEARING FROM THE
TWO OF YOU IS THAT YOU WERE ABLE
TO REALLY BOND, OBVIOUSLY,
THROUGH JUST THE SPORT AND
THROUGH THE LOVE OF THE GAME,
AND A LOT OF THE OTHER EXTERNAL
ISSUES REALLY WEREN'T
INFECTING --
>> THEY WEREN'T ON OUR PLATE.
>> BUT GIVEN WHERE THE COUNTRY
IS NOW, I'M WONDERING WHAT IT IS
THAT YOU WOULD WANT PEOPLE
VIEWING THE FILM TO TAKE AWAY
FOR WHAT YOU GUYS HAD A CHANCE
TO EXPERIENCE ALL THE WAY BACK
IN 1955.
>> WELL, I WOULD SAY PEOPLE
WOULD LEARN THAT RACISM IS A
LEARNED BEHAVIOR.
AND IT'S MORE THAT IS BEING
TAUGHT.
WE PROVED THAT IT DOESN'T MAKE
ANY DIFFERENCE WHAT COLOR YOU
ARE.
WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING.
WE HAVE THE SAME MAKEUP, WE HAVE
A FOUR CHAMBER HEART, WE HAVE
ALL THESE THINGS, AND WE ARE ALL
ALIKE.
SO I'M SURE HALF THE PEOPLE THAT
SEE THIS DOCUMENTARY, IT WILL
CHANGE THEIR MIND AND THEIR
HEARTS ABOUT WHAT CAN REALLY
HAPPEN.
>> I THINK THAT IS MOST OF IT.
YOU KNOW, IF YOU PAINTED
EVERYBODY GREEN, BLACK A AND
WHITE, WE WOULD ALL BE GREEN AND
EVERYBODY WOULD BE THE SAME.
AND THE FACT THAT SOCIETY HAS
DRAWN THAT LINE, IT'S NOT GOOD.
YOU KNOW, AS I SAID EARLIER, I
THINK WE GREW UP IN THE BEST
TIMES.
BUT THEN I THINK IT WENT
DOWNHILL AND NOW IT'S COMING
BACK.
AND WE ALL JUST NEED TO LOVE
EACH OTHER.
THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE.
>> ALL NEED TO LOVE EACH OTHER
AND PERHAPS PLAY SOME GOOD OLD
FASHIONED BASEBALL.
>> THAT'S FINE, YEAH.
>> GENTLEMEN, THANK YOU BOTH FOR
JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM AND
ALSO FOR NOT JUST HELPING TO
MAKE THIS DOCUMENTARY COME TO
LIFE, BUT FOR THE GAME YOU
PLAYED.
THANK YOU BOTH.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR
HAVING US.
>> FOR VIEWING INFORMATION, GO
TO OUR WEBSITE AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.

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