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We Called Him Bunny

by Richard Andersen

It’s 1934. You’re fifteen years old. Your baseball team is competing in a national championship series in North Carolina. No sooner do you step off the train in Gastonia than the band stops playing. The bus waiting for you pulls away from the curb. At the hotel, you learn there’s no bed for the only black player on the team. His name is Bunny Taliaferro. He’s registered as the coach’s valet, and he has to sleep on a cot. Beds are for white people. When word gets out that the squad from Springfield, Massachusetts, has a black player on its roster, more than two thousand people show up at the team’s batting practice. You’re told if you take the field it will be the last time you ever put on a baseball glove. Then it happens: Bunny steps into the batter’s box.