Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

The Jackie Robinson of Hockey

By awoodall
Thursday, January 14th, 2010 at 9:02 am in Night Owl.

This Friday, the Oakland Ice Rink will acknowledge Willie O’Ree, the first African American to play in the National Hockey League. I think it’s an Oakland School for the Arts event but thought a mention was due to Mr. O’Ree, the “Jackie Robinson” of hockey. Now that must be an interesting story. He would have to be one very tough guy.

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4 Responses to “The Jackie Robinson of Hockey”

  1. Coolhand Luke Says:

    Hey Angela, just as a point of clarification, Willie was not African-American, but African-Canadian. He was the first black player in teh NHL, just not the first African-American. he also was blind in one eye, which made his story that much more improbable.

    This post cracked me up, because my father (a 64 year old white man) has always referred to himself as Willie O’Ree The East Oakland Kid. I had no idea who Willie was growing up but finally googled him. I still don’t see any connection to pops or East Oakland, but I always find it amusing. Now all of the sudden there is some sort of Oakland relevance. Pretty funny

  2. awoodall Says:

    Indeed. Canadian. I had read that and still wrote African American. Shows my U.S.-centrism that the Cadadians find so charming. Either way, the man must have been one tough guy. What a funny story about your dad though. Have you asked him about it again?

  3. Coolhand Luke Says:

    I did ask him about it and he didn’t offer much explanation. We did use to play kitchen hockey (socked feet acted as sticks and a wiffle ball was the puck) when we were little though, so Im guessing the exclamation came from trash talk during those games.

  4. Devil's Advocate Says:

    Canada is a country in the continent of North America. So calling him an African American isn’t that big of a stretch. For arguments sake.

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