Maybe Tomorrow We’ll All Wear 42


Robinson’s iconic 42 has been retired throughout Major League Baseball. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Friday, April 15, will mark the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic debut. Robinson was the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. He had a Hall of Fame career that included seven All-Star game appearances, a batting title, an MVP and a World Series championship. Robinson was a career .313 hitter and boasted a .410 OBP. Overall, Robinson is a legend. However, his legacy and character should be celebrated beyond the scope of baseball on this momentous occasion.

Over the past five years alone, our country has experienced a great deal of turmoil politically and socially. Issues, such as public safety, have made our nation a ticking time bomb. Unfortunately, many of these issues have been attributed to race. One could rightfully argue that Robinson’s legacy is even more incredible given our recent status as a nation. 75 years sounds like a long time, but in reality, it is fairly short. Just 75 years ago, David Ortiz, Roberto Clemente and Aaron Judge would not have been allowed to excel on the field. There are living people that remember when baseball was an all-white sport. Let that sink in and then re-consider the career that Robinson was able to compile. To consistently perform under a microscope is hard, but to do it when the worst parts of society are rooting against you is almost impossible. Robinson beat the odds and paved the way for the thousands, if not millions, of athletes that followed him. This may seem like a fairly obvious observation, but it is often “lost in the shuffle” when speaking about “Jackie Robinson Day.” Yes, he now has a day dedicated to his legacy, but no one ever takes the time to sincerely reflect on what it took to make it to this point. It’s easier to brush aside the racism Robinson dealt with and never imagine what his career (and life) may have been like if he didn’t have to endure the endless struggle against bigotry. On this 75th anniversary of his debut, we should remember his bravery and dare to imagine what his legacy may have been in a league without racism.

While the state of our nation as it pertains to race has improved, there is still work to be done in sports alone. It was not long ago that Adam Jones faced racist taunts, or that players showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It is clear to anyone with a pulse that there are still grave issues within our society that must be addressed. Equality of opportunity, education and standard of living still hover over issues of race and should not be shoved aside because “everyone can now play baseball.”

 None of this is to say that “Jackie Robinson Day” does not mark a special day in our nation’s history; it clearly does. But it is critical that we don’t let the occasion blind us to reality. To allow this would ultimately be disrespectful to the life of Robinson and everything that he stood for. Towards the end of the Robinson biopic “42,”  Brooklyn Dodger teammate Pee Wee Reese tells Robinson, “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42, so nobody can tell us apart.” On this “Jackie Robinson Day”, please remember that there is still progress to be made. While we all will be wearing 42, there are unfortunately still some that only look to tell us all apart and divide the human family. In the true spirit of Robinson, let’s fight the good fight and aim to form a more just society.