The day the Philadelphia Phillies left a hotel that wouldn’t accommodate black and Latino players
‘The poor guys had to go scrounge for a meal in another community.’
When it came to the subject of integration, the Philadelphia Phillies were once one of the least progressive clubs in baseball. The team’s first black player joined on April 22, 1957, when John Kennedy stepped in for Solly Hemus as a pinch runner in the eighth inning against the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had broken the color barrier in the sport 10 years earlier with Jackie Robinson.
Kennedy’s appearance made the Phillies the last team in the National League and the third-to-last team in Major League Baseball to integrate its squad. Part of the team’s unwillingness to change is attributed to the Phillies’ 1950 pennant, which the team won with its all-white lineup over the integrated Dodgers.
Five years later, on March 10, 1962, Philadelphia would show some serious gumption. When the team’s general manager John Quinn was informed that his players of color wouldn’t be allowed to stay at the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel, he decided to uproot the team from the Clearwater, Florida, hotel and take them somewhere that would accommodate and give equal service to the Phillies’ black and Latino players.
Philadelphia regularly stayed at the Jack Tar Harrison for its spring training, but on this day, Quinn packed the team up and drove his players east toward Tampa Bay, Florida — 20 miles from the stadium — to check the team into Causeway Inn.
“I was the player rep,” Dallas Green, a young pitcher on the team at the time, told The Trentonian in 2007. “They refused to give the guys breakfast and dinners and stuff. So, John Quinn took the whole team, moved the team, and that was a big move. The Jack Tar had first-class accommodations.”
Ruben Amaro Sr., a Cuban who relocated to Mexico as a teenager, was one of the players the policy was directed toward. White players went their way after work, while black and Latino players went another way. Even Amaro’s marriage to a white woman caused issues within the organization — the travel secretary would seat his pregnant wife outside the box seats, where the other wives sat, in the obscured seats.
“I couldn’t be with my teammates except in the parlor car on the train,” Amaro told The Trentonian. “When we were on the road, I had to stay on the other side of the tracks.
“After my first year in Texas, I went home to Mexico and said, ‘That’s it, I’m not going back.’ And my dad told me, ‘You asked me to give you permission to play baseball in the big leagues, not because you were going to quit in Double-A.’ And that’s what made me go back.”
Philadelphia would end up having to turn around, however, after realizing that the restaurant connected to the Causeway Inn also wouldn’t serve the Latino and black players next to the white ones. So, even though the hotel welcomed all of the players, Quinn ended up having to take the team back to the Jack Tar Harrison.
“It hurt us a lot, because we were pretty close,” Green said. “We never even thought about that stuff. They were our teammates, and you didn’t even think of the problems they had at that time. The poor guys had to go scrounge for a meal in another community. When we came face to face with it, we recognized that guys weren’t being treated fairly.”