The Mets and Citi Field will host the celebration of 62 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of baseball. The Citi Field Jackie Robinson Rotunda will be officially dedicated tonight. I’ve been critical of the Mets creating Citi Field as a celebration of New York’s baseball history but forgetting about the Mets. But it is nice on Jackie Robinson Day to have Citi Field be the center of the baseball world, at least for a day.
In the past few seasons, commissioner Bud Selig allowed players to wear Jackie’s number 42 that was universally retired in 1997. Some players wore it, and even some complete teams even wore the number. But today all teams will wear number 42.
I could go on about what Robinson did for baseball and the United States. But the real story is that the game that all of us love so much wouldn’t be anything like it is today if it wasn’t for Robinson. Now we have the chance to watch the best players in the world, not just the best white players. We’re all benefitting from what Robinson did.
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- The Spark: “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?” (dir.yahoo.com)
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New York Mets manager Willie Randolph spent the morning doing damage control. He back-tracked from his comments that his problems should be blamed on Mets television network Sports Net New York (SNY) and racism by Mets fans.
Randolph’s story changed completely this morning blaming an under performing Mets team for his problems. He says that it’s all about wins and loses not racism now. Oh, and he’s not blaming SNY anymore either.
Randolph says that his comments about racism were made in a “tongue in cheek” manner. He says that he was speaking in generalities that racism exists in this country.
My take on this is that Randolph is being dishonest and stupid. He wouldn’t have said the things that he did if he didn’t believe them. That’s dishonest. Suddenly he became media saavy today so he’s trying to save face. Continue reading
The Baseball Tonight crew talks about Jackie Robinson Day.
Jackie Robinson Day – Washington Nationals (4-9) at New York Mets (5-6) 7:10pm TV: SNY Radio: WFAN
Odalis Perez (0-2) vs. Mike Pelfrey (1-0)
What to watch: The entire Mets team will be wearing Jackie’s number 42. Mike Pelfrey gets his second start and chance to prove that he belongs on the major league roster. Paul LoDuca and Lastings Milledge make their return to Shea Stadium. Brian Schneider and Ryan Church get to see some old friends on the Nationals.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame brought Jackie Robinson’s and Larry Doby’s plaques from Cooperstown to Memphis today for the Civil Rights Game.
Fans were allowed to view the plaques of the two players that broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. From MLB.com:
“Our hope is that a fan will come and realize that Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson weren’t just fictitious historical creations,” Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn said. “That they are indeed men who, in spite of the challenges they faced, excelled. Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson are not in the Hall of Fame because they were pioneers. They’re in the Hall of Fame because they were exceptional baseball talents, and that baseball talent was only brought to life because they were given the chance.”
The Hall has only allowed Roberto Clemente’s plaque to go to Puerto Rico, Juan Marichal’s to the Dominican Republic, and Ted Williams to Fenway Park after he died. It’s a very special event for plaques to leave the Hall.
“It’s very rare in general to have a plaque leave Cooperstown,” Horn said, “primarily because when a visitor comes to the museum, we want them to feel that they’ve seen the entire experience. But this is such a historic opportunity for us to educate fans here in Memphis, fans of the game, about their contributions on the baseball field.”
I saw most of the game on ESPN today and there appeared to be a good number of Mets fans there. Major League Baseball is thinking about moving the game around to different cities in future seasons and possibly making a regular season game the Civil Rights Game. I think both are great ideas.
A lot has been written over the past week or so about the Mets playing in the civil rights game tomorrow. Willie Randolph is the first African-American manager in New York and Omar Minaya is of Latin descent. That alone should qualify the Mets as a logical choice for the game.
Some writers have questioned Major League Baseball’s choice of the Mets. The roster has plenty of Latin players, there’s no denying that. Those same Latin players wouldn’t be in the game today if it wasn’t for the civil rights movement. Baseball would still be the best white players in the world, not the best players.
I read a column by Anthony DiComo at MLB.com. It’s a good description of Randolph’s thoughts and feelings about participating in the Civil Rights Game. Being part of this country’s white majority, it’s difficult for me to fathom what the feelings and experiences of a minority in this country must be like.
The Mets visit to Memphis tomorrow prompted me to do some reading. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I found by looking around the Internet on the topic of civil rights. We all learned in school about Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King, jr. But those school days are long past for me and maybe some of you. The Civil Rights Game prompted me to take a refresher class to find out, as an adult, what I learned about as a child and adolescent.
I started with Martin Luther King, jr. The obvious choice when beginning a search on civil rights. I read the Wikipedia profile on him and was amazed by his accomplishments. He died three months after his 39th birthday, the same age that I am now. The achievements during those 39 years make me feel like I haven’t done anything yet. He was murdered in Memphis 40 years ago next week. He went to college at 15 after skipping two grades in high school. The impact he had on society today, awards he won and recognition he received are so numerous that I would point you to Google for an education. I was disappointed at the King Center website but I’m sure it’s best visited in person.
I decided to watch the “I Have A Dream” speech that he made in Washington, D.C. 45 years ago. It’s 12 minutes long and I included it here for you to see. This has to be considered one of the best and most inspiring public speeches in this country’s history. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen the full speech before today. I don’t know why that is but I’ve got the same excuses that everyone else does. I’m too busy with the things in my life that I choose to spend my time on. I’m glad that changed today.
Tomorrow I’m going to read about Jackie Robinson. For now, watch this speech and I hope it inspires you too.
Cincinnatti’s Ken Griffey, Jr. called Bud Selig asking to wear Jackie Robinson’s #42 on April 15th. That’s the 60th anniversary of Jackie breaking baseball’s infamous color barrier. Selig embraced the idea, and allowed all 30 teams to participate for one day only. So far Torii Hunter, Barry Bonds, and Willie Randolph have publicly acknowledged partcipating. Former Met Mike Cameron will honor Jackie by wearing his number. All 25 Dodger players will also be wearing No.42.
Kudos to Griffey for the great idea. Currently, only Mariano Rivera wears Jackie’s number since it was universally retired 10 years ago. Rivera was grandfathered, having worn the number prior to it’s retirement.