Honoring Jackie Robinson, Ignoring Branch Rickey and Josh Gibson

From the Cubs website:

The players on both teams will honor Jackie Robinson Wednesday, with all uniformed personnel wearing No. 42.

Really? Again?

Nothing against Jackie Robinson, but how many times does baseball need to bow down to him?

It’s starting to become a little unseemly, all the bowing and scraping and genuflecting to his memory.

Somebody had to be first. He was the guy. It happened over 60 years ago.

There are other players who endured the same hardships. What about Larry Doby, the second black ballplayer? Tough luck, Larry!

What about Josh Gibson, and all the other players who never got a chance to play in the major leagues? Apparently, nobody cares about them.

What about the courage of Branch Rickey, the president of the Dodgers, who made it his personal mission to break the color barrier? He searched for a couple of years before finding Jackie Robinson, because he knew it would take a special player, not just physically gifted but emotionally tough, to tolerate all the inevitable abuse without retaliating.

Shouldn’t that story be told, too? Only the baseball elite — not the black players themselves — held the power to change it, and Mr. Rickey took that opportunity when it would have been much, much easier to just stay out of it. Nobody knows about his role here. Why is that?

Somebody somewhere has decreed: it’s officially Jackie Robinson’s cross to bear, and his alone! Stop annoying us with your facts and history and stuff!

And since well over 50% of all football, baseball, and basketball players today are black, and the two most marketable athletes of the last 30 years are black (Michael Jordan) and half-black (Tiger Woods), what is really the driving force behind all this any more?

  1. No said:

    Weird–I said almost the very same things to my wife during the ESPN telecast of the Cubs-Brewers i/r/t Rickey and the randomness of being the first black player. I remember saying the same thing LAST YEAR. Enough already. Does the world of aeronautics revere Yuri Gagarin or Alan Shepherd to the same degree as the Wright Brothers?

    It’s not like Jackie had to win a duel with someone to go out on the diamond first. To me, all this nonsense just cheapens the whole event and tarnishes Robinson’s actual career as a ball player.

  2. jb said:

    Re: “cheapens the whole event and tarnishes Robinson’s actual career as a ball player”

    Exactly right. That’s what lots of people who support these “days” don’t get. Too much attention for one man not only draws attention away from others who deserve it, it also hurts the credibility of the man you’re trying to honor.