April 15, 1997 Tuesday
Fifty years ago today…
It was Opening Day, 1947. The capacity crowd crammed into Ebbets Field, clamoring for a look at Branch Rickey’s great experiment. As the Brooklyn Dodgers took the field at the top of the first, a black man wearing a 42 on his back trotted to first base. The crowd went wild in a number of ways. The moment brought the end of decades of banishment of blacks from the major leagues.
That calm, handsome, skilled man was of course Jackie Robinson. He was a great ballplayer, but is not the reason he is a hero for me. The way he held himself and carried an air of dignity wherever he went in a time of great senselessness is remarkable. Because of Jackie Robinson, and untold others before and since, America as we know it is a better place to live. Thanks, Jackie.
We watched videos today on Robinson today in both World History and Government. Mr. Johnston, my history teacher, is a big baseball fan. As we watched, however, Sidney stared incessantly at me. She just does it because she knows I can’t help but laugh (you know I don’t mean it that way). She does it, I’m pretty sure, because she wants to see me in trouble. It’s a fun game. This is my firsthand report, below, as we sat in Government (it’s been a slow news day):
“Right now Sidney is staring at me. I’m trying my best to be a good student, and listen, but I can’t pay attention with her staring at me. I am trying to pay attention to the video, but I can feel her blue eyes on me, and I can’t help buy smile, and then crack up. She has such a goofy expression on her face at moments like these I can’t help it.“
This Saturday is Sidney’s birthday. When it was my birthday in February I let her know that fact for days. She knows I know when her birthday is. But do it? This Friday I’m going to pretend I have no idea it is her birthday the following day (that should get her mad). THE REST OF THIS IS A SECRET: Tomorrow I’m going to order flowers to be delivered to her house, for when she gets home from track practice. That should get a surprise, and a welcome relief at the end of the day. The card will say, “I have a better memory than you think. To my second-string-best-friend, Happy 18th Birthday.”
The snow has finally melted in central Illinois, and tomorrow we have a home game.
P.S.-All number 42’s have been retired to honor Jackie Robinson. Players still wearing it, such as Bosto’s Mo Vaughn, it still wear theirs, but no new player will never be issues 42 again.