Thursday, April 16, 2009

I don't understand the people who are against the Jackie Robinson tribute

O.K. I understand intellectually why some people might think that removing the choice of wearing 42 and making it mandatory makes the decision less of a tribute and more of a requirement.

But so what?

Seriously, when you see the whole team wearing #42 it is memorable. I watched several games and seeing every player coming up with Jackie's number was almost startling.

It was a wonderful symbol of unity for a man who fought against division. And started the ball rolling that led to our current President being elected.

How could one or two players wearing that be as powerful?

Instead of saying "Hmmm... I thought Torii Hunter was #48" you could have people asking "Why is EVERYONE #42?"

And then discussions can start of Jackie's greatness. (And as I pointed out a few years ago, that greatness wasn't just social courage, but he improved baseball forever!) 

How is that a bad thing? And don't assume everyone knows about Jackie.

It's not that long ago that Vince Coleman stated so eloquently "I don't know nothing about no Jackie Robinson."

That's a triple negative... which means he knows nothing about Jackie Robinson.

So put the intellectual argument away for a day.
For once, I agree with Bud Selig.

And if THAT isn't a sign of how Jackie Robinson can unite us all, I don't know what is!


  1. Jackie Robinson was a great player. Jackie Robinson is in the Hall of Fame. Many players like Jackie are in the Hall of Fame, both as Major Leaguers and as players from the Negro Leagues. Many Japanese, Korean and Chinese players will be in the Hall of Fame in the future.

    What Jackie Robinson did in 1947 was monumental. What players like him did for decades after were equally important and just as difficult. But, I feel that baseball will never become a sport where everyone is considered equal until everyone is treated as being equal, and that will only happen when it is no longer necessary to have days when everyone wears Jackie Robinson’s number.

    It would be great if we were at that point now, but I guess we’re not.

  2. It may have been as difficult on the field in terms of baseball play, but not socially.

    Yes, the inclusion of Latino players led to a lot of overt and covert racism. But there was never an instance where there was a single Latino player in a sea of white faces.

    Proud and strong players like Roberto Clemente and Luis Aparcio did blaze a path and endured hardships and I would NEVER belittle what they went through, but I will say what Jackie did as the only player in all of MLB who wasn't white and the example he set, both on and off the field, changed the game in a more profound way.

    As for the Japanese, Korean and Chinese players... yes they are blazing a trail as well. Has Ichiro been forbidden to stay in the hotels with the other players? Was there ever a pettition to prevent Hideki Matsui from joining the team?

    Did Byeun Yung Kim ever receive death threats? Not even during the 2001 World Series!

    And if we get to that utopian moment where race is never an issue, then we should honor Jackie MORE! (Not former A's Manager Jackie Moore)

    Then we should say "The first step to this enlightened world was done by #42!"

  3. For the last 12 years a baseball sits on my desk that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947. The following Jackie Robinson quote is inscribed on the ball: “A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.”

    Jackie Robinson was selected by Branch Rickey because he was strong enough and passionate enough to bluntly express his opinions and act properly when taunted by ignorant fans. Jackie Robinson wore his racism on his sleave, and arrogantly demanded respect from everyone, while not caring if he was liked, or not. And, many did not like Jackie Robinson even though they believed in the same goals. To address your original comment, “I don’t understand the people who are against Jackie Robinson” --- it’s not that they are against Jackie Robinson, it’s because people are different and look at things in different ways even though they may have the same goals.

    Jackie Robinson won the minds of the people through his courageous actions, the Campanella’s and Banks’s won the hearts of the people through their humility. Both kinds were necessary to achieve what has been accomplished. Robinson suffered the most and would probably be disappointed at the lack of progress in over a half century.

    Let’s not forget that Branch Rickey and the Dodgers were doing what most corporations are doing today. Even though they were supportive of Robinson, they were trying to obtain the best players for the least amount of money. At the time, both sides benefitted.

    Racism will probably never die, but equality, particularly in sports can, or possibly has, in many respects, been achieved. Major League Baseball today is not the microcosm of American life that it was back then. Today the celebrity and wealth of the players is at a different level and the significance of wearing Jackie Robinson’s number is lost when we look at the affluent lifestyles of those who wore his number a few days ago. We saw hundreds of #42s running around on the field, but who among them is the Jackie Robinson of today who will take us to the next level of equality, where color is no longer a factor?

    I thank you for having the courage to post your comment.