Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Alexander Sebastian Campanis (November 2, 1916 - June 20, 1998) was an American executive in Major League Baseball, primarily with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also had a brief major league career as a second baseman, playing in seven games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943.
At the time, there had been few black managers and no black general managers in major league baseball. Campanis was interviewed live on national television by "Nightline" anchorman Ted Koppel, and asked why this was so. He responded that blacks "lack the necessities" for these positions.
He later explained that he meant that there were relatively few African-Americans who had substantial experience in these areas. Opinions differ on the sincerity of this apology. In examining the transcript of the entire interview itself, there are arguments to be made both in favor of and against him.
In favor of Campanis, he had preceded the "necessities" comment by saying that the road to becoming a manger is long one of relatively low pay, and that he felt most black players had gone into other more lucrative fields once their playing days were over. In light of this, it might indeed seem that by "necessities", he could have been referring to previous minor league managerial and conaching experience.
Unfortunately for Campanis, though, immediatly after the "necessities" comment he went on to compare the lack of black baseball managers to the lack of black pitchers in baseball and black quarterbacks in football, as further examples that blacks are "short" of the aforementioned "necessities." Since pitcher and quarterback are often considered the most cerebral positions in their respective sports, his use of those particular analogies helps make the argument that he was questioning intellect, rather than experience.
Further, he went on to defend his point by offering that blacks are not good swimmers "because they don't have the buoyancy." Presumably, he would have felt that this supposed "lack of buoyancy" is inherent in black people. So, the fact that he would use something inherent as an analogy suggests that he felt the lacking "necessities" were also something inherent, such as intelligence, rather than something that could be simply acquired, such as managerial experience.
Back in Campanis' favor, though, when Koppel then specifically indicated that he felt it was sounding as though Campanis was saying that blacks were not intelligent enough to be managers, Campanis did at that point quickly and specifically deny that that was what he was saying. Similiar to his initial point that he felt most blacks to chose to pursue more lucrative career avenues than entering the managerial pipelines, Campanis commented that "many" blacks are "highly intelligent" but just perhaps don't have "the desire to be in the front office."
Later, when asked about black players in the Dodger organization, Campanis indicated that he thought that about a third of the players were black, and "deservedly so because they are great athletes." He then opined that "they" are great athletes because "they" are blessed with great muscles and speed. Was he saying here that all blacks are naturally superior athletes in this area? Or, since he had just been asked about the black players with Dodgers, was he just referring specifically to what he'd observed with respect the general athletic abilities of that particular group of players?
Finally, he said that as great as they might be as athletes, he was not as certain about the proposition of blacks having the "background" to be a baseball team president or a president of a bank. So again, the issue would be whether, in questioning blacks' "background" in this regard, was he using a code word for intelligence, or did he simply mean that there were few blacks with the background experience generally required to lead up to such positions?
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