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“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” ~ Jackie Robinson

On Tuesday, April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played in a game with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In that moment, he integrated major league ball. Baseball changed. America changed. And, the civil rights movement was moved profoundly forward.

Today, major league baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson – and the impact he had on the game of baseball and on the battle for civil rights. Major league baseball has retired Jackie’s number 42, but, in tonight’s games*, in honor of Jackie, every major league player will wear #42.

Robinson was clear in his autobiography I Never Had It Made that civil rights meant far more than just allowing a black man to play in what was until then a white man’s game. Civil rights in America, he explained, is not won until every person – black or white, male or female, rich or poor – is afforded the same rights and the same fair shake in our society. We’re not there yet.

There’s a “superstar” ballplayer (who goes nameless here) who likes to Tweet a lot and tell reporters that we fans have no idea – no idea – how hard a ballplayer’s job is … how hard it is to live his life and do what he does. I agree. I have no idea how he does what he does out on the field. I know it takes enormous work and dedication to make it to the highest level of sport; to make it look so easy when I know it is not.

But, he has no idea – no idea – what Jackie Robinson endured on the field and off. It was not an easy life for Robinson and he could have walked away. He did not. And, for that, ballplayers and fans alike – all Americans – owe him an enormous debt.

Robinson started and played first base that night. That game, he later said, was a “miserable” one for him. He went 0-for-3, reached base on an error, and scored a run. But, the Dodgers won, defeating the Boston Braves 5-3.

And, America changed forever.

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Thank you, Jackie.

* Tonight’s Baltimore Orioles – Tampa Bay Rays game has been postponed due to rain. They’ll wear their #42 jerseys tomorrow.



11 thoughts on “#42

    • Awww … thank you, Lynne! I really like that I share a name with Jackie Robinson, even if my mom really had only Jackie Kennedy in mind when she named me. Still, my dad WAS a Dodger’s fan, so I could perhaps make a good case. :)

  1. Great update! None of us really know what anyone else is going through but I am willing to bet that your “nameless player” has it quite a bit better than most and for sure than Jackie R! Just from watching the great runners I’ve been fortunate to know, yes, it is a lot of work and they do make it look easy, but how lucky are they all to be able to make a living at something they love to do! And isn’t part of their magic making it look so easy for us mere mortals. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Thank you Amie for putting it so well! :)

      I guess everyone who wants to perform at their highest level — whether sport or any occupation — must work harder and focus more than anyone else. But, you’re right … part of the magic is that those who are truly the great athletes make it look so easy! That’s why I always call baseball the “simple, not so simple” sport.

      I often wonder, though, how Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Hank Aaron and others were able to set aside the hateful and mean-spirited distractions of bigotry both on- and off-the-field in order to still be so “magical” while playing.

      • It is amazing to think they could put their “game” above what they had to live through. Definitely better than I would be.

  2. Pingback: Let’s Make 42 A Verb | The Baseball Bloggess

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