Instructive moment – and the true significance of Jackie Robinson’s legacy for black baseball players – Reading Eagle

Jackie Robinson was in the headlines this weekend when Saturday game when New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson called Tim Anderson’s “Chicago White Sox” shortstop “Jackie” caused a scandal between the teams.

Whether Donaldson joked, as he insisted, or used Robinson’s name in a “racist” manner, as Sox manager Tony La Rousse said, will undoubtedly be a heated debate throughout baseball.

No matter where you stand on this issue, it cannot be argued that Jackie Robinson’s name remains as relevant in baseball today as it was when he overcame the color barrier of the major leagues 75 years ago.

If colder heads predominate, it could be for Donaldson and anyone trying to understand why the name Robinson is used Anderson called “disrespectful” and “La Russa” “racist.”

Throughout his career, Robinson has experienced humiliating attitudes towards both public and private, which, of course, most fans know. The very idea of ​​a black man entering the specialty was such a sensitive topic in the late 1940s that Brooklyn Dodgers executive Ricky held an early meeting with Red Barber radio broadcaster to warn him.

Born in Mississippi, Barber was as popular a broadcaster in New York City as Harry Carey later became in Chicago. According to Kostya Kennedy’s book The Truth: Jackie Robinson’s Four Seasons, Barber moved to Florida as a child and witnessed a black man “smeared with tar and feathers and banished to the streets by the Ku Klux Klan.”

Kennedy wrote that Ricky wanted Barber to know about his Dodgers integration plan so Barber could look for another job if the broadcaster felt he could not hold a game with white and black players. After the meeting Barber went home and told his wife Laila what Ricky had said and then told her he was going to leave the Dodgers.

Laila said, “Let’s have a martini” and think it over for a few days. Kennedy wrote that The Barber came to terms with what he would describe as “self-realization” about the randomness of his kind and the place and place in the world of him or any other person; about the second great commandment “Love your neighbor” and about his role as a reporter.

The barber decided to stay and report what he saw. During a broadcast in 1949 in St. Louis, he told listeners that Robinson and two other black players had been forced to stay at the city’s worst hotel without air conditioning.

“By informing his audience of Brooklyn Dodgers fans about these circumstances, Barber had a small but direct impact on how some people thought,” Kennedy wrote. “It was a bright situation.”

Baseball honors Robinson every April 15, when all his players, coaches and managers wear it № 42. But as soon as the annual celebration ends, Robinson’s legacy seems to have been forgotten for the rest of the season and he becomes just another great player from last baseball.

That shouldn’t be the case, and perhaps Donaldson inadvertently helped some recall the true meaning of Robinson’s legacy with his mispronounced utterances during Saturday’s game in the Bronx.

For those who want to understand the importance of Robinson and other contributions of black players to the game, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, updates the old show with the help of the wonderful Fergie Jenkins Chicago Cubs.

“Twenty-five years ago, when MLB celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier, we opened our first black baseball show,” Josh Rovich, president of the National Hall of Fame and Baseball Museum, told me on Friday during the statue Jenkins. opening near Wrigley Field. “This year we have announced that we are going to reopen the whole thing. Obviously, a lot has changed in 25 years. “

The exhibit at the Hall of Fame Museum, formerly known as “Pride and Passion,” was renamed “Ideals and Injustice,” which better describes the game’s refusal to integrate to Ricky’s bold move in 1947.

“It’s basically the story of black baseball from the Negro League to Jackie and the ’70s,” Rovich said. “It really hasn’t been updated since 1997, so now we’re going to have a whole new exhibition that will take part in the Hall of Fame.

“We will also have a traveling exhibition to be held in various black communities and cities across the country. This is the main initiative that we believe will tell the story of the 150th anniversary of black baseball in America. “

Their stories will be told anew – and just in time for the return ceremony of the Hall of Fame due to pandemic-related restrictions in 2020 and 21. The big Negro leagues are Bad Fowler and Buck O’Neill – the first black coach in the major competitions with the Cubs – will be introduced posthumously on July 24 together with the former star of the White Sox Mini Minos, who began his playing career in the Black League. Minos was considered “Latin American Jackie Robinson,” as Rovich reminded me, and also experienced bigotry and injustice during his career in the major leagues.

Jenkins, which was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991will join the advisory board on the new exhibition.

“We called him and he was happy to help us convey information and tell the story correctly,” Ravich said.

It is doubtful that the Donaldason-Anderson clash will be appreciated by mention at the Hall exhibition, and this can be forgotten by the time the next baseball controversy pops up.

But it serves as a reminder of what Jackie Robinson’s name still means to black players following in Robinson’s footsteps, and of the game’s rich history, which he helped change for the better.


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