A large mural in downtown Nashua, New Hampshire commemorates baseball players Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe for their historic roles in integrating the 1946 Nashua Dodgers.
How did one of the whitest states in America end up at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement? It took two young, talented Black baseball players, one determined baseball franchise general manager, and an open-minded population with a large Franco-American contingent.
Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey had already broken the unwritten rule keeping professional segregated since the 1880s. That was accomplished when Rickey signed African-American Jackie Robinson to play for the Montreal Royals who were part of the Dodgers International League in 1945.
Continuing the momentum of breaking the race barrier, Rickey fully integrated the 1946 Nashua Dodgers by putting catcher Roy Campanella and Pitcher Don Newcombe on the roster thus making Holman Stadium the first integrated ball park in the U.S.
It was said that one of the major considerations that led to the selection of Holman Stadium and the Nashua Dodgers as the team to integrate was Nashua’s large Franco-American population who were not considered to have a cultural history of racism.
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The mural can be seen on the east side of the Maynard & Lesieur building at 31 West Hollis St.