Q&A on the News

Q: Since it was 1947 before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, did Major League Baseball have a policy on Native Americans? Not being white, why were they allowed to play?

— Don White, Atlanta

A: Major League Baseball didn't have a specific rule prohibiting Native Americans from playing in the majors, a 2011 MLB.com article stated. "… The integration and inclusion of indigenous people in professional baseball was a painstaking and arduous process, not dissimilar to what Jackie Robinson and the other first African-Americans to enter the Major Leagues would later endure," according to the article. Many American Indians played in the majors before 1947, including Louis Francis Sockalexis, who made his debut in 1897. Jim Thorpe, a 1912 Olympic gold medalist, played for three MLB teams from 1913-1919, and others included Charles Albert Bender and John Tortes Meyers. Bender was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953, and Meyers played in the World Series in 1911, '12, '13 and '16. Sockalexis, Bender and Meyers, among many others, were nicknamed "Chief" because of their heritage and were the targets of discrimination and racial insults from fans and teammates.

Q: A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution photo showed a guy in the “Battle of the Beards” competition. Can you tell us more about that? I might want to compete next year.

— Gerald Wade, Stockbridge

A: The third annual Battle of the Beards was held at Smith's Olde Bar (1578 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta) on Dec. 14. For more information about the contest, call 404-482-3994 or go to BattleoftheBeards.net.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).