1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania’s A. B. “Happy” Chandler was commissioner of Major League Baseball when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier

LEXINGTON, Ky. — On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Transylvania’s own Albert B. “Happy” Chandler (class of 1921), the commissioner of baseball, had approved Robinson’s contract with the Dodgers to set the stage for the landmark event. Robinson went on to become the National League Rookie of the Year and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The recently released film “42” chronicles Robinson’s struggles as a baseball pioneer who becomes a national icon.   In 1985, Chandler discussed the reasoning behind his decision in this interview. He argued that young Americans who had risked their lives on the front lines during World War II should not be denied the opportunity to play the nation’s pastime. With his mind made up, he had the courage to overrule the recent vote of the Major League owners, who wanted to deny African-Americans a place in their sport. While at Transylvania, Chandler played three sports-he was captain of the baseball and basketball teams and the quarterback for the football team-and briefly pursued a professional baseball career. He instead decided to attend law school and launch a political career. He eventually served as Kentucky’s senator and governor (twice). Chandler was elected posthumously to Transylvania’s Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2012. Photo: Commissioner of Baseball A.B. “Happy” Chandler shakes hands with Jackie Robinson at the 1949 World

A.B. “Happy” Chandler tops list of Pioneer Hall of Fame inductees

A.B. “Happy” Chandler, Class of 1921 LEXINGTON, Ky.—Former Kentucky governor and baseball commissioner A B. “Happy” Chandler and basketball star Orbrey Gritton top a list of seven new inductees into Transylvania University’s Pioneer Hall of Fame. The 2012 class was inducted on April 27, following a reception and dinner. The latest additions bring the total number of Pioneer Hall of Fame members to 102, plus one team, since inductions began in 1992. The newest members include Chandler, a 1921 graduate who played baseball, football, and basketball at Transylvania prior to a long career in politics; Gritton, a 1989 graduate who ranks 13th on the all-time men’s basketball scoring list and was district player of the year and an NAIA All-American as a senior; and Mark Turner, a 1977 graduate who retired as the winningest coach in the history of the women’s basketball program. Also entering the Hall of Fame this year are swimming All-American Jay Ecleberry, a member of the Class of 1992 who still holds two school records; tennis standouts Elizabeth Boyd Fryar ’81 and Andrea Barton Lane ’90, both of whom starred on regional championship teams; and Emily Veeneman ’96, a field hockey and softball player who holds the field hockey records for most goals in a game, in a season and for a career. The Pioneer Hall of Fame was founded by the school’s alumni office and the athletics and physical education department to recognize former athletes,