Thursday, April 16, 2009

Number 42

When I was a preteen there was a phrase that you always heard when you went to the Ballpark; “You can’t tell the players apart without a scorecard.” I always bought one because I usually got to Wrigley Field during batting practice and would try to get the players autographs. I didn’t really need it to “tell the players apart”; I had their baseball cards and had seen most of them on television. Besides the public address announcer would name them before the game and again during their first at bat in the game.

Yesterday I watch three games on television. Only one of my favored teams won; the Marlins. The Rays came close against the Yankees and the White Sox decided not to hit the ball against the Tigers. The best part about the Sox game was being able to hear Steve Stone’s commentary once again. I believe that Stoney is one of the most knowledgeable people in Baseball; he knows the game better than many managers (especially former Cubs manager Dusty Baker).

Yesterday was Jackie Robinson Day and every player, on every team, wore the number 42 in his honor; even a scorecard would not have helped a neophyte baseball fan at the Ballpark. I never got to see Robinson play in person but saw him several times on Black & White television.

For you non-baseball fans, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the Major League of Baseball. Branch Rickey, then president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, first signed Robinson to a minor league contract and brought him up to the majors the following year.

There were many players in the Negro League that were better and younger than Jackie Robinson. But Rickey chose Robinson because he believed that Jackie could handle the pressure and harassment by fans and from the other players more easily. Jackie did and in a few years became a fan favorite; the rest is history.

Had Rickey (or someone else) waited another 4 or 5 years to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, we may not have celebrated Jackie Robinson Day yesterday. “Say Hey”, it could have been Willie Mays Day.

The Beach Bum



Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

I'm enjoying the Hawk and Stoney combination myself.

My wife picked up Jackie Robinson's autobiography for one of my sons -- we've tried a lot of strategies to get them to read something than the screen on a video game -- and I read it.

It's not a baseball book. Not really. A lot of sadness in his, and his family's, life.

Thu Apr 16, 07:54:00 PM  
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