18 Apr

on this date

On this date 70 years ago, Clay Hopper, a veteran minor league skipper from Greenwood, managed his first game with the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ top farm team. Playing at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J., the Royals won 14-1, taking the first step toward winning the International League pennant. Of course, Hopper’s Royals debut was overshadowed more than a little bit by another: Jackie Robinson’s. In his first game in so-called organized baseball, Robinson went 4-for-5 with a three-run homer, four runs and two steals. He would go on to win the IL’s Most Valuable Player award and then break the color barrier in the major leagues in 1947. Hopper, who played at Mississippi A&M (State) under Dudy Noble, had asked in spring training of 1946 that Robinson not be assigned to his Montreal club but was overruled. From most accounts, Hopper and Robinson got along fine. Hopper won the IL manager of the year award and was named minor league manager of the year by The Sporting News following that ’46 campaign. He managed another 10 years in the minors and made the IL’s Hall of Fame in 2009, some 33 years after his death. P.S. The Kansas City Royals reportedly are considering keeping outfielder Jarrod Dyson in the minors a while longer as he rehabs from an oblique strain suffered in his first at-bat of spring training. The McComb native and former Southwest Mississippi Community College star is batting .250 with three steals and six runs in six games at Triple-A Omaha.