Maybe it’s just me.
But, every time I see the number 42, I think of Jackie Robinson.
It doesn’t have to be baseball-related.
And, it’s not just on April 15 when baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day.
No. Not just then.
If I glance at a clock and it’s 42 minutes after the hour.
I think of Jackie Robinson.
If I buy something and the total is $42.
I think of Jackie Robinson.
If it’s 42 degrees outside.
It always weirds me out to see a college baseball player wearing #42. Should you be doing that? I hope he recognizes the importance of that number on his back.
It’s more than a number now, isn’t it?
I like that Major League Baseball (occasionally) does the right thing. They retired Jackie Robinson’s number league-wide in 1997. (I know, I know … what took you so long, baseball?)
Baseball “un-retires” the number 42 each year on April 15 – the day Jackie Robinson donned #42 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking through baseball’s color line. Every player will wear his number today. (Robinson had played in a few exhibition games with the Dodgers in the week leading up to April 15, but let’s not get picky here. This is the day. And, this is a celebration.)
Robinson wasn’t front-page news on April 15, 1947. Well, not outside of Brooklyn, anyway.
Page One, top of the fold in Brooklyn.
And, it’s sort of sweet that the front page story of that day’s Brooklyn Eagle mentions Robinson – “the first Negro to crash the big league” – only in passing and several paragraphs after the Opening Day weather report. (Ideal Opening Day weather, the Eagle reported. “A bright sun was expected to zoom the thermometer up near the 60-degree mark with gentle, variable winds on the job to keep the sky practically cloudless.”)
It always bothers me that Robinson seemed to be such a tortured, unhappy person – something that dogged him until his much-too-early death at 53. How much of that came from the weight he carried? While we celebrate him today, I’m sure he would be disappointed that, 75 years later, we still seem far away from fairness and equality. In baseball and the world.
What if we make 42 a verb?
To forty-two something … to break a boundary … to right a wrong.
Like this …
Baseball finally did the right thing and forty-two’ed their cheapskate past and will now pay minor leaguers a wage that allows them to afford adequate housing and enough to eat. (hint, hint)
But, more than just baseball …
Are you still fighting with your sister?
Oh no, we forty-two’d that, we’re good now.
Or even something huge.
We forty-two’d hate. The world is at peace.
Forty-two’ing our way to a better world.
I like that.
More Jackie Robinson on The Baseball Bloggess:
Thank You, Jackie Robinson (2018)
“Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” (2017)