swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
I wrote this post five years ago on the occasion of the release of the movie “42,” depicting the life of Jackie Robinson. Every April 15th I think about the national significance of Jackie Robinson, and how he is remembered. It is easy to forget the important role he played in the advocacy for equality in our nation. And so to Jackie I say: thank you for all that you have given to the world. We are all better because of your example.
Today marks the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947. The remembrance of this moment in baseball might be the single best decision made in the sport that I love. Money changes everything (at least according to Cyndi Lauper) and baseball is no exception. Yet, this is the deal we make to have certain types of experiences. For every game that I am able to attend at our beloved home park, AT&T Park, I must concede that this comes at a price. I don’t mind paying for parking and food and drinks and snacks and the tickets because I enjoy the rewards that come in return. Mostly it gives me a chance to share something special with my son that links us forever in a very unique way. Yet the honoring of Jackie Robinson on this day goes way beyond this.
As a culture, as a people, we screwed up and there is no way to to repay or make up for this mistake, and all of the others we continue to make. So we must continue to strive to move forward. The gesture of having every single MLB player wear the same number, 42, is a simple but powerful reminder that we are all Jackie Robinson and we are called to do our best to love and accept others, despite what differences we may have. I am so used to identifying players by their numbers (hey, did you know that Stephen Drew is wearing the same jersey number as his older brother, JD when he was on the Red Sox?) that the sight of every player wearing 42 is eye-opening in the most visible of ways. Wait, I thought Ryan Dempster was pitching today? Nope, Jackie Robinson…
Yes, I did recently see the movie, 42, and this surely hit hard with me. I have rarely felt such constant emotion during a movie as I did this past weekend. (Normally I just cry at the end of movies… you had me at ‘hello’) This is much deeper and it is my job to make sure my children, my students, my friends know what this means. Thank you to the makers of this movie for re-igniting the flame of Jackie’s legacy. But mostly, thank you to Jackie for being my hero and showing me what being strong is all about.