a player to be named later

Maybe the editors on sports desk got distracted that weekend in November of 1950, let their attention wander as they composed the last page of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s sporting newses and notes. But maybe that’s naïve, or overly charitable. Maybe when they sent the item above — that’s it, the whole entire thing — into print, those editors were, instead, looking to sum up the whole history of black players in hockey’s big leagues in as succinct a fashion as possible, erasing him from his own story — and doing it, what’s more, under an erroneous headline, and with minimal punctuation.

Art Dorrington was the player who went unmentioned that day. A son of Truro, Nova Scotia, he was 20 in 1950, a high-scoring centreman coming off a stand-out season with the Stellarton Royals of the Nova Scotia Antigonish-Pictou County Hockey League. Scouted and signed by the New York Rangers, he was assigned to the Atlantic City Sea Gulls of the Eastern Amateur Hockey League, and did indeed make his debut at Madison Square Garden that November night, when the Rovers downed the Gulls 7-3. Dorrington didn’t score in that game, but he finished the season with 18 goals and 34 points in 49 games. The call-up to the NHL never came, He played six further seasons in the minor leagues before his career was ended in 1958 by a leg broken badly while he was playing for the EHL’s Philadelphia Ramblers. As Tom Hawthorn pointed out in a Globe and Mail obituary published after Dorrington’s death in 2017, his injury in 1958 occurred a week after Willie O’Ree made his debut with the Boston Bruins, becoming the black player to take the NHL ice in the league’s 41-year history.