Sunday, April 15, 2007

Jackie Robinson # 42

Today, Major League Baseball is honoring the birthday of Jackie Robinson. For those that are living with sand over head, Jackie Robinson was a Super Star with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but that's not all. He became the first Black baseball player to break into the Major Leagues, back in 1947. Branch Rickey, then General Manager of the Dodgers, saw great stardom in this guy. He was right.

A star football player with UCLA, he played baseball in the Negro leagues until 1947 when Brooklyn brought him up, after a short period with a Montreal Farm Team.

The reason I am bringing this up are twofold. First, in High School,in Renton, Washington, I was a die hard Dodger fan. My Junior Year, 1955, the Dodgers went to the World Series, and again in 1956.

Secondly, after joining the U.S. Air Force in 1956, after graduation, I was sent to Texas for basic training. In January of 1957, I was sent to Casablanca, Morocco. During the week I stayed in New York City, I and a friend toured the City. We stopped at a network studio where they were rehearsing the Andy Williams Show. In those days they didn't have video tape, and the shows were live. My Friends name was Eggers, and he was from Spokane. I've often wondered what happened to that skinny tall drink of water.

The guests that week were Patti Page, the 50's singer, and my hero, Jackie Robinson.
I walked up to Jackie and asked for his autograph. He graciously did so. The following week, I shipped out for Morocco. Back then, and I guess a lot had to do with where I was raised, color really wasn't an issue.

My High School had, I think one or two black students, one or two Japanese, and one Chinese guy, that I shared a Photography class with. Both the Japanese-American and the Black guy were football stars for our school. We never really thought much about that they were different than us, just how many yards they could gain.

Back then, and I must point out that we were at the time in the Suburban Northwest, race wasn't an issue. They were just neighbors, somewhat different, but equal,than us. I still remember Kagi Yoshitomi, our running back. He was unstoppable.

I think I still have Jackie's autograph somewhere. It was the thrill of my life ...

1 comment:

E. H. said...

"They were just neighbors", great quote. Should be the name of a book. So true, still can't understand why some would think otherwise.