TIME Baseball

Mets Pitcher Suspended for a Year After Positive Drug Test

Jenrry Mejia
Mike Stobe—Getty Images Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets walks off the mound after being pulled in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, on September 9, 2014.

He tested positive for Stanozolol and Boldenone

(NEW YORK) — Just back from an 80-game drug suspension, New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia has been banned for an additional 162 games following a positive test for Stanozolol and Boldenone.

Mejia was suspended April 11 following a positive test for Stanozolol and said in a statement then “I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system.”

He returned July 12 and was 1-0 in seven games, pitching 7 1-3 scoreless innings. Because of the first suspension, he would have been ineligible for the postseason, if the Mets make it that far.

The Mets said in a statement Tuesday they were “extremely disappointed.” New York acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from Oakland on Monday.

TIME Baseball

Colorado Rockies Trade Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays for Jose Reyes

Cincinnati Rads v Colorado Rockies
Dustin Bradford—Getty Images Troy Tulowitzki reacts after flying out in the seventh inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field in Denver on July 25, 2015

The talented but oft-injured Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star

(DENVER) — Troy Tulowitzki has been traded by the Colorado Rockies to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and three pitching prospects in a stunning swap of star shortstops, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Tuesday because the deal had not yet been announced.

In addition to Tulowitzki, the Rockies sent 42-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays.

Along with Reyes, the Rockies picked up reliever Miguel Castro and two minor league pitchers.

Neither team had confirmed the blockbuster deal. FoxSports.com first reported the sides had agreed to a trade involving Tulowitzki, Reyes and minor leaguers.

The talented but oft-injured Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star who is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs in 87 games this season.

He was replaced on defense in the bottom of the ninth inning during Colorado’s 9-8 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on Monday night. After the game, the slugger spent at least 30 minutes in manager Walt Weiss’ office at Wrigley Field, but was unavailable to reporters.

The deal gives Toronto another powerful, right-handed bat in a dangerous lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. The Blue Jays are tied for second place in the AL East, seven games behind the New York Yankees.

Reyes is batting .285 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 16 steals. He was acquired by Toronto in a November 2012 trade with Miami.

The face of Colorado’s franchise, the 30-year-old Tulowitzki has spent his entire career with the Rockies (42-55) but has been the subject of trade speculation for some time. Still, the Blue Jays seemed an unlikely destination.

Tulowitzki is in the middle of a $118 million, six-year contract that runs through 2020. The deal includes a $15 million team option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.

Before the game, Weiss was asked if he’s talked to his star shortstop about handling distractions leading up to Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

“I’ve talked to these guys as a group about all the distractions that come with the trade deadline,” Weiss said. “Basically, I told them to control what they can control. There are always distractions at this level during this time period.”

The speedy Reyes, a four-time All-Star with the New York Mets, has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In 69 games with the Blue Jays this season, he is hitting .285 with a .322 on-base percentage. He has four home runs, 34 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

Reyes is signed through 2017 on a $106 million, six-year contract.

The 42-year-old Hawkins is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 24 games.

___

AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen and freelance writer Brian Sandalow in Chicago contributed to this report.

TIME Baseball

Justice Department Quietly Drops Barry Bonds Prosecution

Barry Bonds at the Los Angeles premiere of "Million Dollar Arm" in Hollywood on May 6, 2014.
Gregg DeGuire—WireImage/Getty Images Barry Bonds at the Los Angeles premiere of "Million Dollar Arm" in Hollywood on May 6, 2014.

Department of Justice pursued investigation and prosecution of Bonds for a decade

(SAN FRANCISCO)—The U.S. Department of Justice formally dropped its criminal prosecution of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball’s career homerun leader.

The decade-long investigation and prosecution of Bonds for obstruction of justice ended quietly Tuesday morning when the DOJ said it would not challenge the reversal of his felony conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A jury convicted Bonds in 2011 of obstruction of justice for giving a meandering answer to a federal grand jury when asked about injections. A federal appeals court overturned that conviction in April.

The DOJ could have asked the high court to take the case. But the DOJ has filed a one-paragraph notice with the appeals court saying it wouldn’t challenge the lower court ruling.

TIME Baseball

Mike Trout Named MVP as American League Wins All-Star Game

APTOPIX All-Star Game Baseball
Michael E. Keating—AP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run during the first inning of the MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14, 2015

The AL beat the NL 6-3 on Tuesday night and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years

(CINCINNATI) — Mike Trout flashed the skill that puts him at the front of baseball’s new generation, just moments after four of the all-time greats had just walked off the field.

Trout became the first player in 38 years to homer leading off an All-Star game, Prince Fielder drove in two runs to show this era is not just about the kids, and AL arms outdueled their more accomplished NL rivals.

A new-look All-Star Game finished with the same old result. The AL beat the NL 6-3 Tuesday night and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years.

In an age of dominant pitching, Felix Hernandez, winner David Price, Zach Britton, Dellin Betances and Wade Davis took scoreless turns in the AL’s third win a row.

A season after the retirement of Derek Jeter dropped the curtain on the turn-of-century greats, the 23-year-old Trout was among six starting position players under 25 — the most since 1965. He was the MVP of last year’s game in Minneapolis, when he hit a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double.

This time Trout sent Zack Greinke’s fourth pitch, a 94 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, over the wall in right next to the visiting bullpen for an opposite-field homer.

Fielder and Lorenzo Cain had run-scoring hits in the fifth against NL MVP Clayton Kershaw that put the AL ahead 3-1.

Manny Machado, at 23 another of the sport’s fresh faces, hit a double off the right-field wall against Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh and scored on Fielder’s sacrifice fly. And Brian Dozier, the last player added to the game as an injury replacement, hit a solo home run off Mark Melancon in the eighth.

Stars old and young gathered in one of baseball’s most traditional towns. The Reds became baseball’s first professional team in 1869, and players wore caps with horizontal stripes in an attempt at a 19th century feel.

Pete Rose, Cincinnati’s hometown hero and baseball’s banned career hits leader, was given an 80-second ovation when he walked onto the field before the game to join Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Barry Larkin, elected by fans as the Reds’ greatest players. Wearing a red jacket and tie and walking stiffly, the now 74-year-old Charlie Hustle was applauded as soon as his image appeared on the video boards, even before he emerged from the AL dugout.

And in the first All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark, which opened in 2003, fans got to see some great ballplayers.

Bench, changed into a blue jacket, returned with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax, voted baseball’s great living players by fans as part of the promotion. In a sentimental yet stunning reminder of generational change, Aaron, 81, and Morgan, 71, needed canes to reach the infield, and Mays, 84, was aided on and off the field by an assistant.

Above the field, new Commissioner Rob Manfred watched from a luxury suite, the first All-Star Game not presided over by Bud Selig since 1992.

Many players of the new generation love bling in a manner that puzzles Hall of Famers: Posey wore a gold-colored helmet behind the plate, looking a bit like the Great Gazoo or a Praetorian Guard, accessorizing with a chest protector, shin guards and cleats all with gold-colored trim. Baltimore’s Adam Jones was shod in bright orange cleats, and Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain and Washington’s Bryce Harper donned golden spikes.

Trout, a Generation Y star with a baby boomer work ethic, completed a unique cycle on a clear evening that followed a heavy afternoon downpour. He singled in his All-Star debut in 2012, doubled to open 2013 game and tripled in the first inning last year. He was just the ninth player to hit for an All-Star cycle in his entire career, joining an illustrious list that includes Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, George Brett, Mike Schmidt and Mays. Fielder later became the 10th.

No one had homered leading off an All-Star Game since 1977 at old Yankee Stadium, when Morgan connected off Jim Palmer. Greinke, coming off five scoreless outings, had not allowed a run since June 13.

“It’s not easy,” Greinke said of pitching to Trout. “You’ve got like a 2-inch window up in the zone. If you throw it higher than that, he takes it. If you throw it lower he does what he did.”

Dallas Keuchel, the AL starter with the long, bushy beard, gave up the tying run in the second after Paul Goldschmidt led off with a bouncer to third, reaching on an infield single and taking second as Josh Donaldson threw wildly. Goldschmidt crossed on Posey’s groundout and Jhonny Peralta, an All-Star again after serving a 50-game drug suspension two years ago, dumped a two-out single into right field.

“It was the most amped up I’ve ever been,” the Houston star said. “It was just the atmosphere — the greatest players ever, Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays.”

The AL went back on top in the fifth against Kershaw, the first NL pitcher voted the league’s MVP since 1968. Fielder lined an opposite-field single to left that scored Trout, who raced home from second to slide in ahead of Joc Pederson’s throw, and Cain pulled the next pitch down the left-field line for an RBI double.

Andrew McCutchen homered off Chris Archer in the sixth, cutting the gap to 3-2.

THE OLD RIVALRY

The AL is 21-6-1 in the last 28 games, losing three straight from 1994-96 and 2010-12. The NL leads the matchup 43-41-2.

SPEEDING

Jacob de Grom of the Mets, the NL Rookie of the Year, struck out Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias on 10 pitches in the sixth, reaching 98 mph. … Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw 14 of 15 pitches at 100 mph or more in the ninth, reaching 103 mph and striking out the side.

UP NEXT

This was the first of at least four straight games in NL ballparks, a departure from the usual practice of alternating leagues for the host. Still, the AL will bat last next year at San Diego and in 2018 at Washington, while the NL has last licks again at Miami in 2017.

TIME Sports

Masanori Murakami: Baseball’s Forgotten Pioneer

Masanori Murakami
AP Masanori Murakami in 1964

He changed the relationship between Japan and Major League Baseball. Then what happened?

In baseball, not all pioneers are created equal. Some, like Jackie Robinson, are recognized immediately as formative figures whose impact reverberates forever, in the game and throughout society. Others, though, need some time — and distance — for their contributions to resonate.

Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese person to play in Major League Baseball, is decidedly in the latter category.

“For a long time, he was kind of a footnote in history. He was a trivia-question answer,” says author Robert K. Fitts, whose biography Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer was released in April. “But he was a true hero.”

This week, Fitts and Murakami will be in Cincinnati for Murakami to take part in celebrating the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. But on July 2, they had a special stop on their itinerary: Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets. Murakami threw out the ceremonial first pitch from nearly the same spot that he changed baseball 51 years ago.

In 1964, Murakami, a 20-year-old pitcher for the Nankai Hawks, was in America on a kind of cultural exchange program with the San Francisco Giants. He was called up from the Giants’ single-A team in Fresno on Aug. 30, joined the team in New York, and on Sept. 1 came in as a late-inning reliever for against the Mets at Shea Stadium. History was made.

Mashi (as his teammates called him) was only on the mound for one inning in the Giants’ 4-1 loss, but he so impressed the team with his control and efficiency that he remained on the roster for the rest of the season. He was also an immediate fan favorite, with Mashi Mania spreading across the Bay Area.

“When I was here in ‘64, I felt like baseball was a little lighter, much more fun,” the now-71-year-old Murakami remembers. “In Japan, there’s all this calculation and control and I felt like it was maybe a little bit dark. So here, I had more freedom to play baseball and enjoy it the way that I loved.”

He pitched out of the bullpen eight more times in 1964, and saw action in 45 games the next season. With each throw, Mashi further legitimized Japanese baseball in the eyes of Americans.

“Until he appeared at the major league level, the general supposition among fans and baseball professionals was that the Japanese professional league was the equivalent of double-A at best,” John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, says. “After Murakami, that was impossible.”

But, just as quickly as his American career began, it came to a halt. A nasty contract battle between the Giants and Hawks resulted in Murakami’s return to Japan and a fundamental reevaluation of Japan’s relationship with Major League Baseball. If Japanese players could compete with Americans, the thinking went in Japan, then they ought to stay at home and build the reputation of their own game. “I think the Japanese professional baseball leagues did not want to become just a source of raw materials,” Thorn says. “They protected their best players with much more vigor afterwards.”

The door Mashi so improbably opened slammed shut for other Japanese players — and it stayed sealed for 30 years. The name Masanori Murakami was forgotten; a trailblazer was reduced to trivia.

In 1995, things began to change.

Hideo Nomo, at 26 one of Japan’s best pitchers, exploited a contractual loophole that freed him to play in America by retiring in Japan. He promptly ended his Japanese career, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and became an immediate sensation.

“I was very happy to see another Japanese player finally make it to the major leagues after all of these years,” Murakami told a Japanese reporter after Nomo’s debut on May 2, 1995. “Nomo’s performance today brought back a lot of fond memories for me. My heart was pumping for him.”

Nomo won National League Rookie of the Year in 1995, threw the first of two career no-hitters in 1996, and ultimately played in America for 13 years. His success cracked the wall separating Japanese players from the U.S., and it drew American attention to Murakami for the first time in decades. In Mashi, fans discovered the pitcher who made Major League Baseball take Japanese pros seriously, who made Nomo’s jump to America possible, who inspired a generation of Japanese Americans unaccustomed to seeing themselves represented in a predominantly white culture.

“I was born and raised in San Francisco and was only 8 years old when he played here,” Facebook user Wayne Yoshitomi said in a post on the Mashi fan page. “I didn’t realize until later in life how important it was to have someone that looked like you playing in a professional sport.”

Today, Japanese representation in Major League Baseball has become something we expect. More than 40 players have followed Nomo from Japan since 1995, including bona fide superstars like Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Yu Darvish. In turn, Murakami’s standing grows, albeit slowly. But his place in baseball history is secure — even if it took decades for the force of his accomplishments to finally be felt.

“We were comparing him to an Asian Jackie Robinson in the majors,” says 17-year-old Philip Choi, who was in the stands for Mashi’s Citi Field pitch. “Because he’s the first, he still has a lot of impact. First everything is good—and the first Japanese player, especially with all the Japanese players in the league now, is huge.”

Dante A. Ciampaglia is a writer and editor living in New York

TIME Baseball

Cincinnati Reds Star Todd Frazier Wins Home Run Derby

Todd Frazier
Jeff Roberson—AP Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati on July 13, 2015

He was the favorite throughout the night

Cincinnati Reds star and All-Star Game spokesman Todd Frazier won the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati on Monday, outslugging Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson 15-14 in the final round.

Unsettled weather had earlier threatened to rain off the event, but after a quick downpour, the competition went ahead. The rain, however, could affect Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, NBC reports.

The rules of the Home Run Derby were amended this year. Typically, sluggers are pitted against each other to see who can hit the most home runs in a five-minute time limit. With the inclement weather, the MLB changed the format to bracket structure, and the time limit was shortened to four minutes, adding a sense of urgency to the hitting game. Players also received an additional 30 seconds if they hit at least two 425-ft. home runs. Frazier was awarded one of these 30-second extensions en route to victory.

The Home Run Derby is one of the festivities at Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend in Cincinnati, hosted by the Reds, which culminates in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Frazier was a favorite throughout the night as Reds supporters cheered him on through every home run, AP says. “No pressure here with these fans,” he said after accepting his trophy.

TIME major league baseball

Watch a 108-Year-Old Woman Throw Out the First Pitch

108-year-old Evelyn Jones, center, of Woodinville, Wash., waves to the crowd after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on her birthday before a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Stephen Brashear—AP 108-year-old Evelyn Jones of Woodinville, Wash., waves to the crowd after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on her birthday before a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, in Seattle, on July 11, 2015.

A 108-year-old woman made history Saturday when she became the oldest person to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game.

Evelyn Jones threw out the pitch at the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field before a game against the Los Angeles Angels.

A team spokesperson said she watches every game in her room at her retirement community so that other residents won’t bother her, according to a local television station.

The previous record-holder was a 105-year-old woman who threw out the pitch at a San Diego Padres game last year, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIME Sports

See Photos of Satchel Paige Before He Crossed the Baseball Color Line

On July 9, 1948, Satchel Paige transitioned from the Negro leagues to Major League Baseball

Leroy “Satchel” Paige spent two decades pitching in the American Negro leagues before Major League Baseball, in 1947, began to integrate its ranks. When he debuted with the Cleveland Indians in July 1948, he was not only among the first black players in the league; he was also, at 42, the oldest rookie in the Major League.

LIFE profiled Paige in 1941, years before joining the MLB was even a glimmer of a possibility. At that time, Paige pitched as a freelancer, working for whichever team would pay him the most competitive fee. Major League pitchers, the magazine pointed out, typically played every fourth game, but Paige “pitches three games a week all season, winning most of them.”

Though Paige drew crowds mainly thanks to his supreme talent—Joe DiMaggio said after facing him in a 1936 non-league game that Paige was the greatest pitcher he had ever batted against—but his outsize personality also attracted numbers to every game. He was a showman and a storyteller, bestowing playful nicknames upon his pitches (a changeup was a “two-hump blooper” and a medium-speed fastball was a “Little Tom”). And his performance seemed unaffected by his eating habits, which had him “consuming great quantities of ice-cold pop and hotdogs just before pitching.”

In 1971, Paige—who played his last game at the age of 59—became the first Negro leagues player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME Race

Jackie Robinson’s Life Was No Home Run for Racial Progress

The Brooklyn Dodgers' infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform, circa 1945.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images The Brooklyn Dodgers' infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform, circa 1945.

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

America loved the baseball star on the field, not off it

Jackie Robinson’s story brings together two American obsessions: sports and freedom. This is why we never tire of his tale. Yet in the way that the story has been handed down, it masks as much about our national identity as it illuminates.

The story of Robinson’s breakthrough often comes in the language and rhythms of baseball – the stuff of hits and runs, stolen bases and brushback pitches. He wrought havoc on the basepaths, demolished a racial barrier, and opened up our society.

The popular tale emphasizes Robinson’s moral courage, and rightly so. It has shaped him into a folk hero who belongs to the ages. But Robinson’s story becomes most instructive when we bring it down from the realm of the timeless epic, and connect it to the time and place in which it occurred.

The larger history – of racial struggle in Brooklyn and America after World War II – is often ugly and painful. When Robinson’s saga is placed in this context, it does not represent just a feel-good triumph for racial equality. It also reveals how the quest for freedom and democracy has coexisted with our country’s commitment to segregation and racism.

To be American is to know that we strive for freedom and at the same time we practice its opposite. We are capable of great leaps forward in terms of racial progress, including the election and re-election of the nation’s first black president. Yet our streets are not yet safe enough for unarmed black men to walk in peace. This remains our unresolved conflict: high-achieving African Americans have been welcomed into specific realms of American life, yet such individual accomplishments have done nothing to alter the deeper patterns of black poverty, police brutality, and spatial segregation. The conflict between racial progress and racial inequality was as clear in Jackie Robinson’s day as in our own.

For many Brooklynites, an afternoon at Ebbets Field was the definition of bliss.

The aroma hit them first. The smell of bread rising from the Taystee factory, and cakes baking at the Ebingers plant, greeted the fans when they stepped out of the train station. As the throng pressed closer to the stadium, that scent mixed with roasted peanuts and hot dogs, sweat, and grass. Then came the sounds: the excited yells of children, the vendors hawking scorecards or newspapers. Many Brooklyn natives, like Joel Berger, recalled Ebbets Field as “a total sensory experience.” Nighttime made the stadium a palace, transfixing the eyes. Joe Flaherty remembered the decadent feel “of walking through Prospect Park to see a rare night game.” On a balmy evening in mid-summer, “all of a sudden the sky would be lit up,” transforming Flatbush into “the Emerald City, and as you got closer, you’d pick up your pace, and you’d give your tickets and go charging inside.” A Dodger game was the quintessential Brooklyn experience. In the age of Jackie Robinson, it became more than that. Ebbets Field was not only the borough’s cultural heart but the very seat of American democracy.

Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, almost nine years before anyone had heard of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Rosa Parks. His achievement armed postwar Brooklynites with a distinctive claim to progress. Dodger fans had long detected something special in their baseball team and their borough; Robinson deepened that sense. He “added another dimension to being a Dodger fan,” reflected journalist and Brooklyn native Pete Hamill. “It was about right and wrong…we became the most American place in the country.” A moral element at once mingled with the magnificent smells and sounds and sights.

If white fans looked further down the street, they would have come to entirely different conclusions about the extent of racial progress. On the same Bedford Avenue that housed Ebbets Field, they would have witnessed the grim reality of housing segregation. Discriminatory federal policies had combined with block-busting realtors and fearful white homeowners to create racially homogeneous neighborhoods. Brooklyn’s African Americans were corralled into a few select areas. Poor blacks had little choice but to pay high rents for dilapidated apartments. In neighborhoods like Crown Heights, Brownsville, and particularly Bedford-Stuyvesant, residents found basic services sorely lacking. Their garbage was collected only sporadically in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and in such areas, the city built few recreation centers, parks, or pools. In the very same years when Robinson played for the Dodgers – 1947 to 1957 – black ghettoes solidified.

This is what the rhetoric about Robinson and interracial democracy so brazenly missed. Even if Robinson’s heroics in the stadium pushed baseball fans to rethink their racial attitudes, even if Ebbets Field became a crucible of integration, very little of that feeling spilled over into the city – or country – at large.

Robinson’s own family experienced the inequities first-hand. Jackie Robinson learned that it was one thing to integrate the national pastime, and quite another to desegregate white towns and neighborhoods. The Robinsons ended up enjoying polyglot Brooklyn. But white homeowners had tried to prevent African Americans from buying property in Flatbush. The Robinsons’ black landlord had endured such discrimination. Moreover, after the Dodgers integrated, some white fans had renounced their allegiance to the team. The borough was no interracial oasis, and even for the Robinsons it was not always welcoming.

In 1953, Jackie and Rachel Robinson began to search for a house in the suburbs of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York. It was a humiliating experience.

The Robinsons attempted to buy land in New Canaan but were rebuffed. Rachel called about one house in Greenwich and, after giving her name, the owners refused to show it. The couple settled for a property just across the state line in New York. Jackie recalled that in autumn 1953, “we finally found a piece of land in New York’s Westchester County that was just what we wanted.” The Robinsons offered the asking price, waited for weeks, and were told that the price would be raised by $5,000. This was standard practice in housing discrimination, a sure-fire way for whites in exclusive towns to claim that they had nothing against African Americans – it was just that blacks could not meet the asking price. This was purely the market at work, they would say, not racism. So the Robinsons promptly kicked in the extra $5,000. “There was another period of confused silence,” Jackie recalled. “At last, we were told that the land had been sold to somebody else. It was this way everywhere we went.” Suburban whites did not want an African American for a neighbor, even if it was Jackie Robinson.

After the Bridgeport Herald printed an article about the Robinsons’ experience, the citizens of North Stamford, Connecticut, were moved to action. Ministers circulated non-discrimination petitions. The Robinsons finally bought a home on Cascade Road. Rachel Robinson recalled that moment: “I don’t know that I ever have felt closer to being a real American, closer to having lifted from my shoulders the nagging doubts and insecurities that are the heritage of the American Negro.” For her, the ability to buy a home was the true test of American freedom.

Their story serves as a sobering reminder about the meaning of racial progress in America. That progress isn’t really about whether we embrace famous black athletes or cultural icons, or even whether we elect an African-American as president. The true test of our progress is whether we can enact policies that combat racial inequality – to stop the rising tide of mass incarceration and police brutality – and whether we can eradicate racial inequality from our private realms, much closer to home, as well. Only then can we begin to build a country in which African-Americans are truly welcome in every neighborhood, every school, and on every street.

Jason Sokol is an assistant professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. His latest book is All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn. He wrote this for What It Means to Be American a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Financial Planning

9 Money Lessons from Baseball

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Haila Rosero / EyeEm—Getty Images

Just like on ball field, financial planning involves optimizing for past results and probabilities.

From time to time we bring you posts from our partners that may not be new but contain advice that bears repeating. Look for these classics on the weekends.

As you cheer your team in this year’s World Series, consider that America’s favorite pastime can teach you a lot about America’s main preoccupation: money.

How does baseball resemble your investing or financial decisions?

1. Probability of outcomes matters, whether concerning stolen bases or investment returns and financial goals.

2. Separating a manager’s skill and luck takes a long time.

3. A quality process matters more than immediate or short-term outcomes.

4. Dazzling past performance clouds present decisions and doesn’t guarantee future outcomes.

5. Specialists work best where they add the most value.

6. Scouts are to fans as investment managers are to average investors, making informed decisions using advanced data and resources. No informed decision is foolproof.

7. Best to worry only about what you can control.

8. Good teams and investment plans use a documented approach to evaluating present conditions and building for the future.

9. Most mutual fund managers are the equivalent of common baseball cards.

Baseball is our most statistically driven sport; we can digest piles of data about each game. Investing offers a similar ton of data to evaluate company stocks, bonds, economic conditions and investor psychology, to name just a few conditions. Beyond past returns and the price/earnings ratio of a stock, investment evaluation goes much deeper with formulas, algorithms, and even a measure called “batting average” that evaluates how an investment manager’s results compare with an unmanaged benchmark.

When I was a kid I loved Strat-O-Matic Baseball, an old-fashioned game in which you roll dice to manage a team and consult player cards for the outcome based on probabilities from past performance. Luck did figure heavily in any single roll of the dice; play long enough, though, and probabilities won out. Much as on Wall Street.

Baseball also evolved into a game of specialists filling specific roles. Pitchers, catchers and shortstops use distinct skills. Investment management is similar: A balanced approach that considers the broad universe of return-seeking opportunities and risk management requires a diverse mix of specialists.

The mix of luck and skill can be hard to evaluate in investment managers. Sometimes you misinterpret a single lucky event to the point of inflating the performance of the manager for years to come.

The probability of any investment manager consistently identifying winners and timing entry and exit with such holdings is low. Just as past performance doesn’t stop baseball general managers from offering obscenely lucrative long-term contracts to players whose careers are fading, investors steer a lot of capital toward money managers based on past market performance and returns.

How does the probability of scoring change if a baseball team has no outs and a runner on first base, compared with one out and a runner on second? Who’s at bat and what’s that batter’s past performance against the pitcher?

Will company earnings continue to grow and justify higher stock prices? How far and fast will interest rates ever climb? Will eurozone stagnation drag down the global economy, and, if so, how far?

To cite one financial firm as an example, my partners and I rely on probabilities of outcomes when creating long-term financial planning and asset projections. We use Money Guide Pro software – the Strat-O-Matic of financial planning – to model how assets, future income streams and expected investment returns might satisfy your retirement income, college savings, travel, health care and other long-term goals. We’re comfortable with a 70% to 80% probability. Insisting on much higher probability means building a plan for only the worst possible financial scenarios and can cause shortfall in your funding.

The investment world always carries an element of uncertainty, the relationship between risk and reward. Even if we accurately gauge the probability of investment outcomes, we won’t make successful money decisions every time. Fluid factors can disrupt probabilities.

An untimely double play quickly ends a promising rally. Retire a year early or spend more than you planned right before your golden years and your probability of funding retirement income changes. Lose your job and automatic payday funding to your investments temporarily dries up.

The challenge in financial planning and on the ball field: We optimize for past results and probabilities and still retain little control over outcomes, especially when we move beyond numbers and into your situations and goals changing through your game of life.

Gary Brooks is a certified financial planner and the president of Brooks, Hughes & Jones, a registered investment adviser in Tacoma, Wash

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