Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Expanding Jackie Robinson Day

Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allen H (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Place
New York, NY 10167 

Dear Sir,

Major League Baseball should be commended for recognizing the anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut, breaking the color barrier. I have long revered Robinson for his courage and hard fight becoming the first Negro in the big leagues. I also marvel at his all-around ability, excelling in football, basketball, and track & field.

Now that Jackie Robinson Day has gone on for several years, perhaps it is time to expand the celebration. Once Robinson integrated the Dodgers, then every other team faced the same struggle. Some teams, like the Cleveland Indians, handled the situation better than others (Boston and Philadelphia, to name two). From Larry Doby to Ernie Banks to Pumpsie Green, each player who was the first to integrate each team and city faced many of the same hardships as Jackie. Perhaps it’s time to honor them as well.

SUGGESTION: Have each team honor a player instrumental in integrating that team or city. For the newer teams that never faced this predicament, they can honor Robinson or a Negro League great that was associated with their city or state. For instance, the Kansas City Royals could wear Buck O’Neil’s number. Since new jerseys are already being made up for Jackie Robinson Day, it would not be much more expensive to outfit each team in the period jersey and cap of the player to be honored. Later this game-worn equipment could be auctioned off to help develop minority baseball players. Here’s a list of possibilities:  

Braves: Hank Aaron’s 44 (or Boston Brave Sam Jethroe)
Marlins: A Cuban great, like Zoilo Versalles, Cookie Rojas, Tony Perez, Tony Oliva, Preston Gomez, or Bert Campaneris
Mets: Willie Mays’ 24
Nationals: Jackie Robinson’s Montreal Royals number
Phillies: John Kennedy
Brewers: Hank Aaron’s 44
Cardinals: Tom Alston
Cubs: Ernie Banks’ 14
Pirates: Roberto Clemente’s 21, or Curt Roberts.
Reds: Chuck Harmon
Diamondbacks: Jackie Robinson
Dodgers: Jackie Robinson’s 42
Giants: Monte Irvin’s 20
Padres: Jackie Robinson, Nate Colbert, or Cito Gaston
Rockies: Jackie Robinson
Blue Jays: Cito Gaston?
Orioles: St Louis Brown Hank Thompson
Rays: Jackie Robinson
Red Sox: Pumpsie Green
Yankees: Elston Howard
Indians: Larry Doby
Royals: Buck O’Neil
Tigers: Ossie Virgil, Larry Doby, or Willie Horton
Twins: Tony Oliva, or Washington Senator Carlos Paula
White Sox: Minnie Minoso
Angels: Leon Wagner?
Astros: Joe Morgan or Jimmy Wynn?
Athletics: Bob Trice
Mariners: Jackie Robinson
Rangers: Washington Senator Carlos Paula

Thanks for your time. And as a Braves fan, please suggest that those great outfielders wear striped socks and strirrups!



No comments: