Now More Than Ever, We All Should Remember Jackie Robinson

Undated photo of US baseball star Jackie Robinson

Every MLB season April 15th is a day the game honors Jackie Robinson. All players wear a #42 jersey and its day to remember what he meant to the game and how impactful the moment was when he broke the color barrier.

Because of the CoronaVirus, baseball is celebrating Jackie Robinson over a two day period- yesterday and today since the game was shut down back in April.

And perhaps this moment to honor and remember Robinson has never been as powerful as we watch pro leagues stand together in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

It is also a time to remember the actual moment Robinson broke down a barrier many hoped for but wondered if they would see. And it happened in our state.

In the spring of 1946, Robinson was a member of the Montreal Royals, the top minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The two teams were set to play an exhibition game on March 17th. The Royals were not allowed to train in Jacksonville, Deland and Sanford. In Sanford, Robinson was threatened over and over and team owner Branch Rickey decided to move the team to Daytona Beach to train.

On that Sunday March 17th in 1946, four-thousand fans packed into the ballpark but it was no ordinary spring game. The black community knew the significance of the moment and many proudly walked into the stadium wanting to witness the moment. They did so, seated in the black grandstand. Yes, the black grandstand, where wire fencing separated the white fans in attendance.

Despite fears of violence outside and even inside the stadium, the game was played. Robinson went hitless in three at bats, stole a base and scored a run in a 7-2 loss. Despite the performance in the game, it was a historic moment in so many ways.

One year later, Robinson- playing for the Dodgers- broke the color barrier at the Major League level.

Only then, did the challenging journey really begin for Robinson. Death threats were common. He stayed in hotels different from his teammates. There were restaurants he was not allowed to dine in and even some teammates were not sure he belonged. 

But Robinson battled on. It was the first year there was a Rookie of the Year Award and Robinson won the honor. And during that monumental season, fans of all color went to the ballpark with the hope of seeing him play.

And yet here we are in 2020. As baseball players remember Jackie Robinson it should be a moment for all of us to pause and think about what he went through and ask ourselves how we have changed or the change we still need to make...

Notes: We all know this guy- brings own putter to play miniature golf, knows amount of homeruns he hit recently in a softball league, calls a charge playing at the gym when clearly not, explains how he lost his fantasy league title on one play, knows someone who knows someone really famous, claims to be going to the Masters next year, had a chance to go backstage for a big rock band, knows a guy who can get you Cuban cigars and once dated someone you knew 20 years ago...When was the last time you pulled a ticket for the deli counter at the store?...The first NASCAR sanctioned race was held on the beach in Daytona in 1948. But racing on the beach dates back to as early as 1905...

Final note: The first checkered flag was supposedly used in 1906 at a road rally. Races were divided into sections and officials "checked" off times of drivers after each section. And the flag was created and used because there were no more boxes to check off.

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