On April 15th, 2012 Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson day throughout all of baseball. This great tribute was fitting for the man that was the first person of color to play professional baseball. As crazy as that sounds, it is a fact that not more than forty years ago the game of baseball in this country was only played by white skinned players.
Segregation was not something that was in the dark ages. The concept of people not wanting to be next to someone of a different color might have been a dark age thought to us today, but the reality was that this was real and it was here in America. One can only imagine the pressure on a young athlete like Jackie Robinson to decide to play a game where he knew that he would be the odd ball, the center of attention, the guy that many white fans would want to chase off the field if they could.
The fact is that Jackie Robinson made more than history when he decided to take up the offer to play baseball. He was gifted in many sports, but he chose to play in the most conservative one of its time, the great American sports, baseball that was as American as apple pie, but not that sweet for people of color.
Thanks to Jackie baseball fans and the game itself was elevated to a higher level. Now the best of the best could be seen, not by color, but by performance. MLB did the right thing in honoring the memory of this great player that meant so much to the game of baseball and having every team playing yesterday wear the #42 in Jackie's honor was a memorable touch to a history that should not be forgotten.
By that same token, I could not help but feel proud knowing that one day perhaps many teams will also be doing the same for another great player that also helped change history not only for Latino players between the foul post, but also for all players outside of them by his spirit of giving. The word "humanitarianism" is now a common thing among many players because of what Roberto Clemente showed by example to the point of losing his life in that fatal plane crash on December 31st, 1972 trying to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
This article is not about Roberto Clemente, but in recognizing Jackie's contribution to baseball, you can't help to also remember the "Great One" as he is called in Pittsburgh. Sooner, or later Major League Baseball will have to address this as well.
Check out http://latinosports.com for more.
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