Captain’s Log. Daddy Chronicles. Diaper Date 1673. April 15th is a pretty big day. Yes, there is that whole tax thing, but there is a pretty big piece of American history that is commemorated today. Jackie Robinson Day. 65 years ago today Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. He was not the first black professional baseball player (many sources point to a catcher, Moses Fleetwood Walker, in the late 1800’s as being the first black “Major League” player; Bud Fowler is considered the original pioneer for professional baseball). However, after the unwritten gentleman’s agreement became common practice (team owners would agree not to field a team if the opposing team had a player of color on the field), all players of color were pushed out of the league and the country’s national pastime became as segregated as the country.
For about 50 years baseball had a split personality, same game, played in two separate worlds. Then in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Larry Doby followed a mere 11 weeks later. The two pioneers played with the weight of hope on their shoulders – uniting a game and a country. The integration of the game would foreshadow the sweeping change the country would experience in the decades to come. Before Martin, Rosa, and Malcolm there were Jackie, Larry, and Hank.
So what does this have to do with fatherhood?
Well, that is pretty simple. There are the obvious lessons in what Jackie and Larry both endured. Perseverance. Pride. Self-control. There is a quote from Robinson that sums it all up to me: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
This day is about more than baseball. And don’t let anyone fool you, it is not about one race or the other. It is about having the courage to make an impact regardless of how people label you.
So enjoy Jackie Robinson day. Remember the pioneer. Remember how far we have come and how far we still can go. Remember the impact that Jackie and Larry both had, and seek out a way to make your own. And if you can, enjoy a game – it is a pretty cool thing to see all players wearing the same number. The only number to be retired by every team in Major League Baseball (with the exception of Mariano Rivera who was grandfathered in). The number 42.
Don’t forget the usual…
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