I have been a baseball fan my entire life.
I have very vivid memories of watching the Chicago Cubs play with both of my grandpas. I remember laying on the floor of my grandparents’ TV room to watch the first night game at Wrigley Field. I remember the rain delay and watching Greg Maddux, Al Nipper, Les Lancaster and Jody Davis run and slide head first on the tarp that covered the field.
I grew up going to the Metrodome to watch the Minnesota Twins play. I remember the day Kent Hrbek threw me a practice ball as he ran into the dugout. I remember watching in awe as Kirby Puckett seemed to jump to the sky to catch fly balls. I still feel the same youthful excitement of the game every time I walk into Target Field.
I’m too young to remember segregation. In fact, as a child, I didn’t even know who Jackie Robinson was. But every single time I have watched a baseball game over the course of my life, I have been witness to what this man did. By taking the steps he did, accepting the scary and unknown risks that accompanied being the first man of color to play, Jackie Robinson changed the face of baseball.
Because of Jackie Robinson, all I have ever know of America’s past time is that is everyone’s game.
Because of Jackie Robinson, I was raised with heroes like Kirby Puckett, Andre Dawson, and Ken Griffey.
Because of Jackie Robinson, amazing ball players like Zoillo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Big Papi, and Mariano Rivera were able to realize their versions of the American Dream.
Because of Jackie Robinson, the only MLB I have ever known has been a diverse group of ball players representing the best of the best – regardless of race.
To me, Jackie Robinson Day means celebrating our sameness – not our differences. It means sharing the love of baseball with all who want to partake. It means that regardless of color, culture, or creed baseball can be everyone’s favorite past time.
What does Jackie Robinson Day mean to you?