Happy Jackie Robinson Day!
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing”
– Edmund Burke
Happy Jackie Robinson Day! Obviously Robinson is a huge hero of
mine. His ability to perform under the microscope that he played under is
incredible. To take the hatred that was directed towards him and to turn it
into hits, steals, and defense is beyond remarkable. He carried the hope and
dreams of so many with such grace and perseverance. But I imagine that at
times, he must have felt like the loneliest man in America.
Being the first woman to coach first base in professional
baseball was the most difficult thing I have ever done. The experience cannot
be compared to Robinson’s. But while I went through my own journey, I often
thought of Jackie.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to have coached with the
Brockton Rox of the Can Am League (2009). It was amazing, humbling, and fun.
But there were also those lonely moments. Those moments where I had to dig deep into my soul and decide who I’m going to be and how I am going to act.
About 4 weeks into the season, I had been kicked out of the
Rox locker room. The short reason was because I was a girl. So, the result was
that I couldn’t get my post game meal. In a Gandhi-inspired protest, I would
silently sit by the door of the locker room after the games, while the entire team
would walk past me to go get their dinner. I would wait to see if someone would
After one game, our 23-year old catcher came out and asked me
if I would like dinner. He then sat outside that locker room door and together
we ate. We chatted about the important stuff and also the not so important
things. It was nice. And I felt that I was not alone.
I’ve always wondered why Robinson’s teammates didn’t stand up for him sooner. Why didn’t they just collectively decide not to sleep in hotels
that wouldn’t take him or to not eat at restaurants that wouldn’t serve him.
After all, while management may say “no” to Jackie Robinson, could they really
say “no” to the Brooklyn Dodgers?
I think that without Branch Rickey, there is no Jackie Robinson. It is the people in power that can give the opportunities. My Branch Rickey is Mike Veeck. He helped me get that job with the Rox. And I will always be thankful for Veeck for believing in me, but even more importantly, for believing what baseball can be. A game of equality, a game of progress, and a game of hope.
Again, Happy Jackie Robinson Day! To a day where we can remember that when we put ourselves on the line and reach into our souls, we can become more than we ever thought possible. And when we do that, we can often find, that we are not alone.