My intro to Jackie Robinson was from a school library book that I checked out in the 4th grade. I remember waiting for my mom or dad to pick me up because I was stuck in the nurse's office with a high fever. Since the school library was adjacent to the nurse's office, the nurse asked if I'd like a book while I waited. I requested a baseball book and she picked out the biography of Jackie Robinson.
I ended up missing a few days of school, but that was okay because I learned all about #42, the great Jackie Robinson! My favorite team has always been the St. Louis Cardinals, but back then I was quickly becoming a Dodger fan too. Probably because of their appearances in the 1977 & '78 World Series. From the book, I learned that the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. I learned that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play MLB baseball and I learned that people could hate someone simply because of the color of their skin. That last revelation really perplexed my young mind. (It still perplexes my adult mind.) I've never understood how ignorance and fear can eclipse kindness and love in some people.
It was a big thrill for me last year when I visited, for the first time, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. So many heroes and legends around every corner and included was #42! Jackie was inducted to the hall in 1962 on his first ballot.
Jackie Robinson's Hall of Fame plaque.
Jackie Robinson display at the Hall of Fame.
My original plan was to publish this blog post on Jackie Robinson day but first I wanted to see the new Jackie Robinson movie, 42. I finally saw the movie this past weekend.
Movies and baseball are two of my favorite things and when they mix together, it's a sure bet that I'll be in the theater waiting for the movie to start. 42 is a winner of a movie that is both entertaining and engaging. The film focuses on just a few years of Jackie's life, the before and after parts when he broke baseball's color barrier. In that short timespan we get a since of Jackie's strong willed character that helps him "turn the other cheek" during rampant racism from teammates, opposing teams and fans in the stands.
42 is a good film that will probably be an intro for many kids about Jackie Robinson, much like the school library book was for me when I was a kid.
In 2004, Major League Baseball created the very cool Jackie Robinson Day. I've only had the chance to attend one ballgame on this day and it was a great experience that I recommend for anyone, baseball fan or not.
The Jackie Robinson Day game that I attended was in 2010 at Busch stadium and the St. Louis Cardinals hosted the Houston Astros. It was a great day for baseball and the energy in the ballpark was electric. The best part, is the tradition of all players on both teams wearing Jackie's retired number 42.
For more info on Jackie Robinson, be sure to visit the Official Jackie Robinson Site and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.