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Life And Death Of Jackie Robinson

August 28, 2020

42: The ultimate answer to life, the Universe and everything.
42: The uniform number worn by Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson died today. . .again.

I was sad when COVID cancelled baseball games on April 15. On that day in 1947 a young rookie named Jackie Robinson stepped in to play 1st base for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the era of integrated baseball had begun.

Robinson was a rare talent. He won Rookie of the Year honors and today the award is named in his honor. An even greater honor is that every year on April 15, every baseball club wears #42. Not just one player, but every player, every manager, every coach. They all put on number 42, “so we can’t tell them apart.”

Robinson’s number 42 has been retired by every baseball club in the Major Leagues. No MLB player will ever again wear number 42. The last one to wear it was the great Mariano Rivera. He is the only player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously. Not even the great Jackie Robinson earned that honor. He earned 78% of the vote on the first ballot.

Baseball decided that Jackie Robinson day wasn’t something that we had to miss this year. Sure, we can’t hold it on the anniversary of his first game. Instead it was held today August 28.

I’m not sure if MLB picked this date on purpose. But, in 1968, 21 years after Robinson made his MLB debut, on August 28, another black man stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and told us that he had a dream for America.

Yes, today is the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech. It’s one of the greatest speeches ever spoken. It’s so much more than the “I have a dream” phrase. It speaks of a check that America wrote to its black citizens. And that check came back marked Insufficient Funds.

MLK’s soaring oratory takes us from the hills of Stone Mountain, GA, to Colorado, to New York. It’s a speech full of hope. Yes, and dreams, but mostly a call to action to be better than we have been.

Today is the anniversary of that speech, the culimination of his March on Washington.

It seems fitting that MLB would choose today to honor Jackie Robinson. His leadership helped Major league baseball integrate decades before the rest of the country followed suit.

It was nice to see the Mariners and the California Angels take the field today all wearing 42 with no names.

And if that’s all that happened today, it would be a great day to remember baseball, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King. Perhaps, I’d compare Doctor King’s quest for racial justice with today’s Black Lives Matter movement.

But, it’s not all that happened.

The movie “42” was one of the most entertaining Jackie Robinson movies. The brilliant actor Chadwick Bosemann played Robinson and he literally become the great ball player. He movements, even how he dangled his fingers before stealing a base.

It was a masterful movie and Bosemann did an equally masterful job.

Today, at the age of 42, Chadwich Bosemann died. Jackie was a few years older at 53 when he died of a heart attack. It was colon cancer that killed Bosemann.

He is probably best known for his role in Black Panther. But, to me he will always be the person who allowed me to watch Jackie Robinson.

RIP Jackie, and Bosemann.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

2 Comments
  1. A little knowledge can get one’s self smacked, as was some of this information from your previous posts on Jackie Robinson.
    Me (the non-sports fan) to my Wife (rabid hockey and baseball fan) on seeing 42 on a baseball player as she turns on the game, “wasn’t that number retired except for one day a year when all wear it? but I thought that was earlier in the season” (yes, knowledge I learned from a Rodney post). My wife was skeptical (cause I’m the non-fan and she is) and had to check up about it. On finding that I was right, she smacks me on the arm cause I’m not supposed to know this stuff 😉

    Thank you for broadening my knowledge, so much fun even among the related sadness.

    42 is such an answer, and clues us that we are really in a base 13 universe since that is how that equation actually works, much to Douglas Adams consternation.

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