Jackie Robinson: Hero

Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball..

In celebration of [[Jackie Robinson]] day I watched the episode from the [[Ken Burns]] documentary [[Baseball]] devoted almost entirely to him. It was amazing, and sad, and embarassing. Amazing for what he accomplished, sad for what he had to go through, and embarassing for what we, as a nation, put him through.

As former New York governor Mario Cuomo said, “why did it have to take so long? Didn’t we settle all of this with the Civil War?”

Did he hit it?

He hit a home run. With taunts of racism, threats of lynching, and violence from players hurled at him constatntly, he managed to hold his temper, and in doing so, transform the national game into something that was truly The National Game.

Yes! But that ain’t all

George Will commented that (paraphrased):

The most important African-American in the history of the country is inarguably Martin Luther King. A very close second is Jackie Robinson. He came before King, and made King possible. For him to excel at a game that requires such equipoise while undergoing the most base forms of racial hatred is not only one of the great accomplishments in sports, it is one of the great accomplishments of the human race from any time or any place.

Exactly. As another commentator said (I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name), “you can divide 20th century American almost in half: before Jackie Robinson, and after Jackie Robinson.” Before Robinson, it was basically accepted by the country that blacks were inferior, and after, he showed everyone that that was patently a false assumption.

He was the beginning of making this, for the first time, a United States. Are we there yet? I don’t think so, but we’re infinitely farther along that we were before Jackie.

Thank you Jackie. You’re a hero in every sense of the word.