Sign In For Members Join Sign In
  • Donate

  • For Members

  • Who We Are

  • Our Mission Our Faith Our History Supreme Officers About Membership Video Library
  • What We Do

  • Charity Insurance Invest Donor-Advised Funds Programs Scholarships Churchloan
  • Get Involved

  • Join Donate Find a Council Store College Councils
  • News Hub

  • Latest News Columbia Knightline Faith Response Social Media Hub
  • Contact Us

  • Safe Environment Program

  • Careers

  • Who We Are

    What We Do

    Get Involved

    News Hub

    The Knight who defended Jackie Robinson

    Eddie Stanky was one of Robinson’s earliest important supporter on the Dodgers.

    By Andrew Fowler 2/6/2020
    Steve Hamilton, Yankee pitcher; Eddie Stanky, Chicago manager, both members of the order, SK McDevitt, Bishop Greco, and Yankee general manager Daniel Topping, Jr., posing around the plaque commemorating the Mass for peace offered in Yankee Stadium by Pope Paul VI. 1966 June 25.

    When Jackie Robinson walked into Griffith Park Stadium in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 1957, 9,000 fans broke out cheering.

    Fans were there to celebrate the man who broke baseball’s color barrier during the Interfaith Baseball Game organized by the Knights of Columbus along with B’nai B’rith and the Almas Temple Shrine.

    Ten years prior, during Robinson’s first season in the majors, racial insults were hurled his way. Less than a week after Robinson made his first start on the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, they played the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies and their manager Ben Chapman verbally abused and racially taunted Robinson. The abuse almost drove Robinson “to the brink of abandoning the ‘noble experiment’ in pacificism.” Robinson had been told by Branch Rickey, the Dodgers owner, to be a player with “guts enough not to fight back” in order to not give racists reasons to keep black players out of the Major Leagues.

    So Robinson’s teammate, Eddie Stanky, a Knight of Columbus, stepped in and tried to stop the abuse.

    As depicted in the movie 42, while Robinson was being taunted during an at-bat, Stanky shouted down the Phillies, calling them cowards and saying, “Why don’t you guys go to work on somebody who can fight back? There isn’t one of you has the guts of a louse.”

    Stanky was the starting second-baseman and leadoff batter for the Dodgers that year. He had a reputation for being scrappy, leading the majors at one point in walks, runs and plate appearances. His playing-style got him the nickname “The Brat.”

    When it came to Robinson, previous biographies stated Stanky initially didn’t like Robinson. But the Society for American Baseball Research says that both Robinson and Rickey “rated Eddie Stanky as Robinson’s earliest important backer.” And his stand against the Phillies’ bombardment of racial insults truly united the Dodgers as a team.

    Stanky’s son, Mike Stankiewicz, said that his father was “so impressed by Jackie's raw ability and the way he dealt with everything he had to handle, that, despite what’s been written over the years, they became really close.”

    Stanky would go on to be an All-Star in 1947 and play in the World Series along with Jackie Robinson that year. He retired with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953 and coached several teams until 1977.

    His story is one of many Knights who defended racial equality, both on and off the baseball diamond. The Knights of Columbus’ long history of racial equality includes commissioning and publishing The Gift of Black Folk by NAACP co-founder W.E.B. DuBois, which argued that African Americans have the right to be considered American citizens. Floyd Patterson, a world-heavyweight champion and Knight, promoted civil rights and integration throughout the 1950s and 1960s. And during World War I, the Knights provided recreational and spiritual services for all American troops, no matter their race.

    Other Knights have fought against the Ku Klux Klan, marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and named a council in Harlem, N.Y. in his honor and restored cemeteries for black Union soldiers.

    The Knights even sponsored an African American baseball team, which played at the K of C Army Hut at Camp Zachary Taylor in Kentucky. As the K of C Huts stated, everybody was welcome.




    Logos & Emblems

    Photo Library

    Press Releases

    Recent News

    Supreme Convention

    Video Library


    Chaplain's Report


    Fraternal Leader Advisory


    Knights in Action

    Share your Knights in Action News


    Please contact the
    Knights of Columbus News Bureau, 475-255-0097

    Knights of Columbus 1 Columbus Plaza New Haven, CT 06510 203-752-4000

    Connect With #KOFC

    Who We Are

    Our Mission Our Faith Our History Supreme Officers About Membership Video Library

    What We Do

    Charity Insurance Invest Programs Scholarships Churchloan

    Get Involved

    Join Donate Find a Council Store College Councils

    Member Resources

    Sign In For Members Safe Environment Program Brand Assets Benefits
    This website uses cookies, including third-party cookies, to optimize the functionality of the website and for website analysis and statistics. To find out more about cookies and how to change your cookie settings, please go to our Cookie Policy. Click Allow if you agree to the use of cookies.