Photo: Sylvester Smith family
In 1949, the Brooklyn Dodgers had Jackie Robinson. Colorado Springs had the Brown Bombers.
Just two years after the Dodgers’ star broke Major League baseball’s color barrier, the Bombers achieved their own historic diamond breakthrough — one equally fraught with racism, but also marked by achievement and celebration.
Seventy-two years ago, no one outside of the Rocky Mountains had ever heard of the Brown Bombers, a team of Black men who surged into a previously all-white city league and won back-to-back championships.
“They hated it real bad when we beat them, and we hated it real bad when they beat us,” James “Sonny” Bell Jr., the Bombers’ star pitcher and shortstop, told an interviewer 22 years ago of the racial subtext infused in those games. “We were underdogs, but we showed them that we could play a little bit, too.”
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