LADY AT THE BAT: Jackie Robinson Day: Looking Back

Monday, April 16, 2007

Jackie Robinson Day: Looking Back

Marco Scutaro ruined my evening last night, but I was able to get up this morning to face another day, albeit a rainy one here in New York City. I climbed out of bed and out of Yankees Universe, looking at and thinking about what had happened yesterday on Jackie Robinson Day:
  • With all the complaints from players like Torii Hunter and C C Sabathia, it looks like the masses won out over the few. Entire teams wearing number 42 gave such a strong statement yesterday. Teams with just one or a few players wearing just didn't do it justice. It would have been better if every player on every single team wore number 42.
  • Jackie Robinson's widow was her usual lovely, elegant self. Her visit with John Miller and Joe Morgan in the broadcast booth was wonderful. She talked about what she and Jackie went through, while at the same time gaining honorable mention for Homer Call of The Week. Yes, she's still a Dodger fan. It doesn't suprise me. What does suprise me is the fact that Rachel Robinson is 84 years old! Let's hope we all look that good at that age.
  • YES Network announcer, and former Oriole's outfielder, Ken Singleton, called yesterday's Yankee game with former backup catcher John Flaherty. Singleton, who grew up in the New York area, incorporated some wonderful anecdotes into the broadcast, talking about how he came to love baseball through his father, who imparted to him the meaning of Jackie Robinson's entry into the game. Ken Singleton saw his first ever Major League game at Ebbetts Field, the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Flaherty, on the other hand, contributed virtu, ally nothing to that part of the broadcast. I know that "Flash" as he's known (and I don't understand why; there's nothing flashy about him), is of a younger generation and can't be expected to contribute any anecdotes of his own. But, one would think that he'd have something to say about Jackie Robinson. He could have at least asked an intelligent question. The only thing "Flash" said was that he thought Robinson was out when he tried to steal home during the 1955 World Series (He was called safe.). In my opinion, Flash came off sounding like he had no respect at all for Jackie Robinson.
  • Speaking of Jackie Robinson's steal of home during the '55 Series, during the YES telecast yesterday, they showed an enhanced (I guess) replay of it. Sorry, "Flash," he was safe.
  • There have been questions lately regarding the fact that, on Jackie Robinson's Hall Of Fame plaque, no mention is made of him breaking the color barrier. Yet, on Pee Wee Reese's and Branch Rickey's plaques, there are sentences crediting them with easing the path Robinson walked. A gross oversight? No. It turns out Jackie Robinson didn't want it to look like he got into the HOF simply for being the first African-American in the Major Leagues. He wanted to be judged by his play on the field.
  • Jackie Robinson didn't want to be looked at as the first African-American to play in the Majors, but we can, and should, do so. I want to see how long all this love for Robbie continues after all the hoopla has died down. I remember what happened after 1997, the 50th anniversary. Nothing. This can't happen again. There has to be a constant dialogue, everyday about this. Otherwise, the number of African-American players will continue to drop, and we'll all continue to wonder, "Why?????"
  • I suppose the dialogue will continue through the end of this week, when the Mets, at least, will have their Jackie Robinson Day celebration, which was rained out yesterday. When I heard the Mets were still going to have their celebration, I wondered why, thinking it would be anti-climatic, after-the-fact. But, hey, if it will keep Jackie, and what he stood for, in the public consciousness for few more days, celebrate away, guys.

The Lady

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I will have a lot to say about the JR celebrations around the country and what baseball did yesterday, but you have to give credit to Bud Selig, et. all for making an attempt to honor a great American.

I really liked what the Cubs did. Not over the top, but simple and dignified -- um, I was a little critical of what the Dodgers and ESPN did, but nothing can ever be perfect.

I feel a lot better that MLB didn't cheapen the legacy and made a sincere effort to honor him.

Whatever we as bloggers and in MLB can do the keep the memory of him alive, we'll be all better for it.