Wednesday, April 15, 2015
A KID NAMED JACKIE
42. To some it’s just the number that comes after 41 and before 43. In the Bronx we know it as the number the Great Mariano Rivera wore during his Hall of Fame career. It is retired not once but twice in Monument Park. Once for the legendary Sandman and once for a kid named Jackie.
I’m not a Dodger fan. My father hails from Brooklyn and that is about the closest I’ll ever be to any connection to the club that once played at Ebbets Field. However I’m a fan of heroes and therefore I’m a fan of Jackie Robinson.
We live in a strange, violent and increasingly angry world. Our country has seen better days and in my opinion. There is little “team chemistry” in the U.S. clubhouse if you will. It seems we need heroes now more than ever. Jackie Robinson wasn’t just a baseball player. He was the epitome of an American Hero. He was built with bravery, heart, work ethic, class, and professionalism. Mr. Robinson not only changed the game he played, but also the world he lived in.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel once asked, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” Today we can ask the same of Jackie Robinson. Where are the heroes we once looked to? Where men and women that gave us all a sense of “Team”? Each year Baseball honors Jackie Robinson with his own special day. At Big League games all over the country every player wears #42 to pay respect to the man who gave the sport and the world so much. I feel it isn’t nearly enough, but it’s a good start. I own a throwback Dodger jersey with Jackie’s number on it. It’s very special to me because of what it means to me as an American. It’s a symbol of what is best about this Nation. Underneath the frustrating political backbiting and dishonesty, the sad “Kardashian culture” and the overall forgotten sense of American Pride there remains a strong, hopeful heartbeat. The things that Jackie displayed every time he had the courage to put on that Dodger uniform are still part of what it means to be an American. It may sound overly poetic, but I don’t think so. Finding touchstones that unite us is more important that we can possibly imagine. Looking at heroes of the past can and should inspire heroes of the present to step up and shine. Remembering a kid named Jackie should gives us the opportunity to cut through the cynical, “Me first” days we are experiencing and find the path Mr. Robinson walked. The path we’ve fallen from.
Thank you, Jackie. You were and always will be much more than a baseball player to us.
** Here’s one for Jackie, Joe D. and Heroes that make us believe we ought to be better.**
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