Jackie Robinson’s powerful legacy, the Dodger team history, and baseball’s lead role in shattering segregation in this country are inextricably linked. For Robinson’s story can no more be limited to its importance to baseball than can the history of the Civil Rights movement overlook the tremendous impact made by Robinson’s becoming a Brooklyn Dodger, and the first African American player in the modern Major Leagues, on April 15, 1947.
The surviving icons of the successful integration of baseball -- Rachel Robinson and daughter, Sharon; Dodgers 1949 rookie of the year Don Newcombe; Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Frank Robinson and Vin Scully -- were at Dodger Stadium to honor the husband, the father, the teammate, the friend, the mentor that was Jackie Robinson.
|Frank and Barbara |
Robinson, Dave Winfield
and Lloyd McClendon.
Robinson was baseball’s first black
manager. McClendon is baseball’s only African American
manager this season.
In a goose-bump-raising pre-game ceremony, Mrs. Robinson was escorted to the mound by Mr. Koufax as -players from both teams looked on, warmly applauding.
|Rachel Robinson and Sandy Koufax|
By serving as a proverbial honor guard for Mrs. Robinson, the army of No. 42s at Dodger Stadium that included Don Mattingly, Lloyd McClendon, Jimmy Rollins, Robinson Cano, Clayton Kershaw, King Felix Hernandez, were a living testament that Robinson lives on.
He is burnished in all our memories, either through real-life witness, or through the benefit of the many clips showing No. 42 running like a Olympic sprinter, sliding like a freight train, slashing historic hits. Still shots of his signing the contract offered by the visionary club owner Branch Rickey, shots with teammates who were willing allies are indelible.
Every day, not just April 15, is Jackie Robinson Day in baseball, as far as I am concerned. And every day, he can be as young and vital and iconic as he was in 1947, as long as the game takes time to pause, remember and remind every youngster that comes into the Major Leagues what sacrifice, commitment and the indelible love of a cause as well as a game can produce.