From The Press Box
On my first visit to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2009, there was a very impressive book I was privileged to see. It is the official reporter scorebook, from April 15, 1947, by Sportswriter Tom Meaney of the New York World Telegram. It is kept in the special historical archives and not for regular public viewing. It is a small book, with measures of 7 3/4 inches by 4 5/8 inches. It list Jackie Robinson (although in a sports hall of fame) it is one of the most important Civil Rights documents in history. Craig W. Muder, Director of Communications and John B. Odell, Curator, were kind enough to give me a private tour and a look at this impressive piece of history. I forever am thankful to them. All in coordination with Debbie Gallas, of the A’s media department, the best.
Interesting enough, this book is not in Washington, DC, but in upstate New York at Cooperstown. Of all the great sports memorabilia at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in my opinion, this is the most impressive and definitely historical. The many records by Babe Ruth and other legendary players, in this the greatest sports Hall of Fame in America, do not compare to the historical value of this little scoring book, because it changed the history of baseball and the country.
This April 15th we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson took the field at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York, as a Brooklyn Dodger. No other figure impacted American sports history in America more than Jackie Robinson. This great moment in American history happened 16 years before the “I Have a Dream” speech by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963.
Branch Rickey, the Dodger executive responsible for bringing Robinson to the major leagues, said he deserved ‘no credit for Jackie Robinson’. He received a lot of resistance not only in baseball but outside as well. That should never be forgotten since at that time in history that was a courageous move. Branch Rickey was a man of vision and great courage, one of his quotes: “Problems are the price you pay for progress”. In these days of great fan cynicism regarding baseball from the Commissioner, to owners and even players, Branch Rickey was the right man at the right time in the history of the United States. History has told us so.
Although I never met Mr. Rickey (1881-1963) I did speak to Dodgers Vice President Al Campanis during the 1988 World Series between the A’s and Dodgers at the Oakland Coliseum and although he was fired as their VP for remarks he made on ABC’s “Nightline” comments that were seen as being insensitive at best and possibly racist, he gave me an interview for the pre-game regarding the great star in MLB that time, A’s José Canseco who that season became the first 40-40 man in baseball history and won the MVP in the American League. Campanis spoke fluent Spanish. I also asked him about his relations with Hispanic players (Al Campanis who is in the Hall of Fame) who had signed such black and Hispanic players as Roberto Clemente and Tommy Davis. Many who knew Campanis said he embraced Jackie Robinson historic feat and that what he said on that interview with ABC’s Ted Koppel was a “slip of the tongue”
On April 15, all players on all major league teams will be wearing Robinson’s iconic number 42. An honor to all African-American players as well as all players in baseball, in the minors or major leagues. Many teams have their own tributes during this historic day. Worldwide, Nike is coming out with its own special this year. A shoe they will be releasing they are calling it, Jackie Robinson Dunk Lows in honor of the legend celebrating (featuring at the tongue) a 75 for this special anniversary. The shoe designed in white and blue the colors of the Dodgers.
The All-Star game this year will take place on Tuesday, July 19 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. On April 15, 2017 the Dodgers unveiled an 800 pounds Statue, located at the left field reserve plaza, since then have become one of the most photographs areas at the home of the Dodgers.
Baseball is very proud of celebrating Jackie Robinson Day, more than Baseball he is America.