In the land of rage equality seemed to be a lost dream for many. Segregation was repentant and though as a nation they went to war together, they came back to the hate that never died. The year was 1945 and the Jim Crow laws were still enacted. The color barrier loomed large with no end in sight.
Two heros sat quietly waiting for there time in history. The one that we know of is Jackie Robinson, the man who did break the color barrier for African Americans when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1946 season. We know about Jackie. The other was a white pitcher by the name of Edward Klep. He is the complete opposite of jackie in character and demeanor but he too had a dream to break that barrier.
This fight for equality was about to burst on to the baseball field at the same time. The amount of hate both recieved would destroy most. Now in 2020 during a time in which the Astros were caught cheating, the fans haven’t even abused the players in the way Jackie and Edward were.
A time in which death treats, were more easily acted upon and a time in which the hate was all around. Both hated but for slightly different reasons, Edward more so for his character traits or lack there of. He was a womanizer and alcoholic, which would send him to jail later in life.
His mark on his was but a small one. He lasted only 3 games over 7 innings with two victories. Having grown up in Erie Pa, Edward had always played interracial baseball. Though his information is limited and vague, I view Edward as a hero. Many seemed to question why he was doing it, stating that perhaps he was so bad at baseball it would be his only shot in the negro leagues. Others say it was a gimmick.
In the article: A Robinson in reverse by Johnathon Tilove, C.2005 Newhouse news service, Klep is described as a washout with a temper and huge character flaws. Rather the opposite of how Jackie is portrayed in history. Years after his Cleveland Buckeye days, Klep would put on a new uniform. State prison uniform, and would later die in the 1980s of alcoholism. But before all that he had his brief mark in history which also included a song about him, “the ballard of Edward Klep”.
Fear existed on both sides and throughout the civil rights movements people on both sides were silent when they should have spoke and loud when they should have been silent. Jackie and Edward fought through that silence and in a year broke that barrier. Jackie is a hero, but so is Edward to many who remember what he did. He was hated for abandoning his race and hated for fighting for an issue that seemed to be none of his business to many.
We often don’t look at the other side of the battle but in this case we must. Edward was hated, attacked and condemned for what he tried to do. He was lied to, looked down upon and betrayed. Was he a good player so it seems but the mission he had was perhaps to large for the people viewing it. Jackie was loved by those who understood what he stood for. Edward had no fan base, he had issues and perhaps those issues killed his career before it started.
His history is roughly forgotten from the lost years of baseball prestige and in the shadows of Jackie Robinson. His small mark however stands out in the minds of true baseball lovers who can see and praise what he attempted to do. A horrible time in this country, and yet he dared to stand against the backlash of inequality in an attempt to rid us of it.
After those three games the Cleveland Buckeyes released Klep, stating failure to perform up to expectations. Many feel that was a lie to rid themselves of the backlash. It was a pain, Edward had been arrested at times and was removed from at least one game and told to sit in the “whites only section.”.
Extremely angry and bitter, Klep returned home to Erie Pa. His alcoholism took over and he began a life of petty crime which in the end destroyed him and his stamp on history.
Through all the hate, vigor, and turmoil a true American hero stood strong, that was Edward Klep.