It’s been way too long since I last posted. We are at the beginning of a new season and things couldn’t be better. Last season life got in the way of me continuing this blog, but I look forward to this season being a little less…eventful. I’ll update my bio soon as there have been some changes. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.
For my first “article” this season I thought I’d write about something
relevant to the world in general not just the world of real or fantasy
On April 15th Major League Baseball will celebrate the 60th
anniversary of the integration of America’s sport. The moment
Jackie Roosevelt Robinson ran onto Ebbets Field and took his position
as first baseman* was one that polarized a sport and the nation along
with it. Beyond that it was an event that changed the course of history
for sports fans around the world.
Imagine the world of American professional sports without the likes
of Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Michael Jordan, Rickey
Henderson, Doug Williams, Wilt Chamberlain, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson and
Willie Mays. There are plenty of other stars who have helped to define
the games of baseball, football and basketball, but the men on this
list are some of the most famous names in their respective sports. They
are also names you might not know had Branch Rickey not signed Jackie
Robinson and Jackie not subsequently played well enough to make the
opening day roster for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Jackie was strong enough a person to persevere through the hate and
controversy. He was talented
enough as an athlete to play through the
conflict. He was eventually respected enough to win Rookie of the Year,
MVP, be elected into the Hall of Fame and later to have the ROY award
named after him.
Jackie’s bravery and subsequent success as a player paved the way
for many other African-Americans in their search for equality in life
as well as sports. True, football was an integrated sport long before
baseball, but there was a drought lasting more than a decade after
George Marshall took over the Boston Braves (Washington Redskins) in
the early 1930s. The NBA wasn’t integrated until the 1950-51 season.
The Armed Forces weren’t even integrated until more than a decade after
I’d like to thank not only Jackie Robinson, but all the other
activists that have withstood tremendous opposition in their search for
Thank you Jackie for proving that ability isn’t dependent on the
color of your skin. Thank you for absorbing all of the slurs and all of
the hate-mail to play the game which led the way for the rest of
America. You, along with Roberto Clemente and other pioneers, led the
way for the players I have the privilege of watching every day during
the season as they make awe-inspiring plays and perform athletic feats
that comprise the nightly highlight films. I often comment that I
wasn’t lucky enough to watch some of the great players in the past play
the game I love so much. I wish I could’ve watched The Babe or Satch or
Mick or any of the other myriad legends that have made baseball the
national sport. But I know that none of us would be blessed enough to
see Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Jose Reyes, or Ken Griffey Jr. play
this game had Jackie not opened the door for them.
African-American baseball players are becoming fewer and
far-between as evidenced by a recent study that showed that less than
9% of major leaguers were black. Luckily there are leaders like C.C.
Sabathia, Griffey, Torii Hunter, Milton Bradley et al that are forming
a group to help promote the game to African-American youngsters. The
more children that are exposed to the game, the more opportunities we
have to see the next Babe or Willie or Hawk emerge to tantalize fans.
As the World Baseball Classic proved, Americans aren’t necessarily
tops in the sport. MLB is already without many of the best Japanese and
Cuban players, despite the additions of Ichiro, Daisuke, and Jose
Contreras. Korea’s Seung-yeop Lee is currently playing in China, but
could be playing between the lines at a Major League stadium near you
in the next two years. We should want to see best players in the majors
regardless of race.
If you are watching a game on the 15th of April, stand for the
National Anthem even if you are at home and usually change the channel
while it’s being sung. Tip your cap to a pioneer. While Griffey and a
number of other players will be donning the number 42 in Jackie’s
honor, think about how different, how lacking, baseball would be
without minority players. Then take a second to thank the men
responsible-Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson.
*(Editor’s note-though Jackie was a second basemen most of his career, his first start was at first base)