Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jackie Robinson # 42

It was 1955 during the world series. Dodgers Vs the Yanks. I was in my junior high school year. My study hall was in the afternoon, which meant that I had library during the games. The Librarian was Mrs. Cavelleto. Renton, Washington at that time was primarily Italian. Mrs. Caveletto ruled the library with a vengeance at Renton High School. ... Except during the world series. It seems that our librarian was from Brooklyn. Suddenly, if you were a Dodger fan, you could do no wrong.

Flash to the present:

Recently, in all of major league baseball celebrates the huge contributions that this star baseball, football and basketball star. One man, Dodger president,Walter O'Malley, made two revolutionary decisions. The first, was to cross the color line. there, in that time were some fantastic ball players in the "Negro" leagues. He brought up Jackie Robinson, to the jeers of all major league baseball. This guy, was perhaps the best all around ball player, but his real value was in taking crap from pretty much everyone, and coming out after a few years, as the most admired player of all time.

Back to the past:

1957, January. A guy I've not been able to find since, and I decided to explore New York City. If I remember correctly, his name was Donald Eggers. He was a tall skinny guy that was heading overseas at the same time I was. He was from Spokane, I was from Renton. Some of the adventures will go unnamed. But there were some great memories, too. Back then television was all live. They hadn't invented video recording yet. Don and I ambled up Times Square, like we owned it. We came to a television studio. It might have been CBS, or ABC, or even NBC. I don't remember.

We walked in and asked if we could visit. We were in uniform and were were extended the courtesy of the house. It was the Andy Williams Hour rehearsals. There were chorus girls and guys wrestling around in the lobby. We went into the main theater and there was Andy. But there was more. His guests were , I think, Pattie Paige, singer, and yes you guessed it, Jackie Robinson, formerly of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I was more awed than if I had just met the president of the United States. Somewhere in the house is a scrap of paper with Andy Williams' on one side and my hero, Jackie Robinson's autograph on the other.

Later, and I never found out how, MY Mom managed to get Jackie to send me birthday greetings while I was serving in Morocco. He was then, the Vice-President of a firm called, "Chock Full of Nuts." After I'm gone, someone will,if they don't throw everything out as trash, will unearth this little slip of paper torn off of God knows what, with Andy's signature on one side and my hero, Jackie on the other.

I grew up in a Renton, Washington suburb that had a few black people, but not many. I do remember that when my mom had to work, she brought in a black lady to cook dinner. she was pretty much an aunt Jemima stereotype, but oh Lordy could she cook. We never grew up with hatred about others. Sure, we recognized that some people were different, but we really never thought we were better.

Today, Major League Baseball celebrates the life and career of Jackie Robinson, perhaps the greatest human of them all. He didn't pontificate on television about all of the wrongs that happened in the 1800's, he just simply went out and proved them wrong.Every player in both leagues are wearing number 42 today. I just wish Jackie were here to see it, but then maybe he does. ...

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