In baseball it represents the most important event in baseball history and one of the most important events in American history.
Jackie Robinson sacrificed so much of his life so that America could grow. So that all Americans could become better human beings. The horrible treatment he endured has been chronicled, but there is no way for me to even imagine what he experienced. I have never faced racism, let alone the horrific hatred that permeated our society such a short time ago. I’m not suggesting the fight against racism has been won, but there has been incredible strides taken in the last 60 years. And Jackie Robinson helped lead the way.
I became a history teacher so I could have summers off to watch baseball, to coach basketball, and to fight racism by engaging young people about how terrible and ridiculous racism is. I love my job and I have a lot of faith in our youth.
I have spent a lot of time this past week reading as much as I could about Jackie and his life. Although my senior thesis was about Robinson’s journey, I still learned a great deal about his life and gained more insight into his fight for what is right. This is why it is so beneficial for MLB to celebrate this day. It gives everyone a chance to learn more about Jackie’s fight. Some things I learned:
1) His wife Rachel was very instramental in his succeeding during the most difficult of times. She provided him with support, direction, discipline, and love. She is an American Hero too.
2) Although some Dodger teammates, most notably Pee Wee Reese, helped him in his transition, the help was limited. No teammate even visited Jackie’s hotels on the road. The hotels he was forced to stay in because of his skin color. The hotels with little to none of the same amenities of the regular team hotels.
3) Of the 9 daily papers in New York, not one of them, led their stories of his first game on April 15, 1947, with the monumental event of his breaking the horrendous color barrier. Now, in the future, it would be wonderful to have the color of skin, or religious beliefs, or sexual preferences, be a non-story. That it isn’t even noticed at all. That everyone is judged on his or her own character. But that was not the case back then. I wonder what their motives were? Were they against the event and wanted to ignore it, or were they afraid to make too strong of a statement?
If you have time, enjoy the festivities today. And I am very happy that a lot of players are going to wear #42. I hope someday that every player will wear his number on this day. It will create even more discussion and education about one of America’s greatest heroes: Jackie Robinson