Jackie Robinson Day in Major League baseball was April 15, a tradition started back in 2004. On this day, players and fans pay tribute to Jackie Robinson, all players wear number 42, and fans recognize Robinson’s achievements on and off the field. Unfortunately, this year, because baseball has been postponed indefinitely, Jackie Robinson Day slipped by without much fanfare. I remembered Robinson this past month for so many reasons, but this year because of his quote, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.”
During these days of COVID-19, social distancing, and isolation at Colorado Academy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being a spectator. I encourage you to fight the temptation of sitting in the grandstand. Engage with those in your family, reach out via phone or Zoom, exercise at home, or safely go outside for a run or ride. Plan on how you are going to emerge from these days of quarantine. Commit to being better physically and emotionally by moving and adjusting to your present realities. In short, adapt, so you don’t become a spectator.
Scoring against all odds
By breaking the color barrier in the MLB, being a trailblazer against racial segregation, and championing civil rights, Robinson paved the way for so many that came after him. Robinson was also an accomplished four-sport athlete in high school and college. He played football, baseball, basketball, and ran track during his time at UCLA. After graduating from UCLA, he enlisted in the Army in 1941, and then went on to be athletic director at Sam Houston State, before starting his professional baseball career as a minor leaguer in 1945. In 1947, Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Robinson to a major league contract, making him the first African American to play in the major leagues.
Robinson’s influence impacted so many individuals and our society in general. He was a model of perseverance, courage, grace, and toughness. Famous MLB manager Leo Durocher once said about Robinson, “This guy didn’t just come to play. This guy comes to beat you.” In a famous video of Robinson caught in a rundown where five New York Giants players are attempting to tag him out, Robinson, because of his skill, stamina, and most certainly his mental toughness, eludes the tag and scores on the play.
After playing 10 seasons in the majors, Robinson retired from baseball at the age of 37. He then served as the VP for Chock Full o’ Nuts, became a TV commentator for MLB broadcasts in the 60s, served on the board of the NAACP, helped found Freedom National Bank, which served minorities and low-income neighborhoods, and started his own construction company.
After Robinson died, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. To say the least, Robinson did not sit on the sidelines after his professional baseball playing days were over.
Be like Number 42
Currently, even though our days are primarily at home, we need to continue to move forward and positively challenge ourselves to be better during this situation.
If Jackie Robinson can evade five opposing players and score, we can all make a run at coming out on the other side of this pandemic better than when we started. We will emerge better because of our mental toughness and our fortitude. Set a goal for yourself, stay positive, and commit to it.
Like number 42, we can be a role model for our families and for our communities and influence those around us. So don’t be a spectator. Stay connected and support one another; we will all get through this together. Hope to see you soon at CA. Go Mustangs—together as one!