Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm glad Willie is wearing No. 42. I wish David Wright would wear it, too.

I write about an inner-city school district where about 75 percent of the students are minorities.

Every January, the district makes a big deal about Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And it should.

Yet the day seems to pass like any other in our suburban districts. And without getting all PC on everybody, it kind of burns me that the districts seem to think that only people of color can appreciate why King was important.

But mandating the districts do something to recognize the day would be a waste. It has to be sincere to have meaning.

I thought about that today when I read that Mets Manager Willie Randolph will be allowed to wear Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 on Sunday, when Major League Baseball commemorates the 60th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier.

My buddy Will pointed out that it was Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr. who came up with the idea and called Bud Selig to make the request. Bud liked the idea enough to open it to every team.

Among those jumping on board are former Met Mike Cameron, now of the Padres, and Barry Bonds. Of course, Yankee cyborg Mariano Rivera will be wearing the number, too. He’s the last player still on the field who wore No. 42 before it was retired at a Shea Stadium ceremony in 1997.

I noted that the Red Sox players should be forced to wait until August to wear the number to remind us all of how unenlightened the team was in taking forever to add a black player.

I loved Willie’s widely reported quote: "I said I’d have to fight whoever to get to wear No. 42. Anything associated with Jackie Robinson is an honor for me, and it will be a very special day to wear his No. 42."

Then it dawned on me I’d love the quote even more if it came from David Wright. Or Greg Maddux. Or Chipper Jones. Or Randy Johnson. Or Jim Thome. Or Pronk. Or Curt Schilling. Or any other star who happens to be white.

All of them benefited greatly the day Jackie Robinson bravely stepped on that field, not just the black players. Just like all of us are better off today because of the Rev. King’s life work.

And just once, I’d like to see someone recognize that.

It should be noted that the entire Dodger team is wearing No. 42 for that Sunday game against the Padres when Robinson’s legacy will be saluted. I think that’s a good idea. But I also wonder if it’s like telling the suburban school districts to conduct an assembly on King Day.


Kyle said...

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You can get back to me at


G-Fafif said...

You nailed it my friend. It bugs me that Jackie Robinson's legacy is seen as applying to only a segment of the baseball-playing population...or population as a whole. Same for Dr. King's.

Rivera as the words of one of my favorite occasional commenters, badass!

Anonymous said...

Dr. King was an exceptional leader who espoused the theories of Gandhi; that of peaceful civil disobedience. Even though his cause at the time was regarding race, his memory should transcend race. We were blessed as a country to have a man with such a combination of courage and intelligence; which occurs so very few times in our history (presently a huge dearth exists). Even if they suburban schools pay simple "lip service" to this great American, at least it is something. The wonders of the internet can bring people like King alive for your children. If the schools don’t do it, we need to take the lead. You can listen to the “I have a Dream speech” and get chills up your spine for the bravery, foresight and down right genius with just a few clicks of the mouse. So, to the people who didn’t know King (I was only around 3 when he was killed), there is still a responsibility to teach our own children both in our actions and our reverence for the man.
As far as Jackie Robinson is concerned, I agree wholeheartedly he deserves the utmost respect. I think it is interesting he entire Dodger team will don #42. The announcers better know the names of the players. But after the Al Campanis debacle in April of 1987 (I watched in disbelief, he was clearly drunk, but even that was no excuse). It was amazing how Koppel was trying so hard to bail the bigot out, and he kept digging a bigger ditch. I kept saying out loud, to no one present, this guy really believes this s___t. With that past experience, the Dodgers should wear #42 once a year!!!
TW Granite Bay, CA

POJO_Risin said...

I, for one, don't like the lip service. As a public school elementary teacher, I spend the year incorporating diversity into my lessons.

One of the great days in the year was after we finished our Manifest Destiny discussion, in which we looked at the perspective of the Native Americans, and one of the kids raised their hand and said, "there aren't enough months for all the people that were treated unfairly."

That brought about a long talk about what we could do as people to forget about the months, and create fairness every day. We talked about Martin Luther King a lot that day (Jackie Robinson as well), and the kids couldn't believe that he didn't want to fight. A few weeks later, we had a child come in after he learned about Malcolm X, and compared the two. Many understood Malcolm and why he handled things the way he did. The comparison was interesting, because both shared the same fate.

The problem? I had a parent come in a couple of days after the initial conversation, and try and ream me out for talking about diversity...they didn't "want their child to hear anything about those people."

I realized then, THAT'S why we have months and days that celebrate diversity, and MLK. For the kids that don't have a chance, or a choice.

I wish the entire league wore the number.

Love the blog. Check out mine at I'm a huge baseball fan. I added your link. Would love it if you added mine.

Oh, and add some VH to that list! Roth of course...

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Great job, guys! Thanks for adding to the discussion.

Josh Wilker said...

Great post.

"I noted that the Red Sox players should be forced to wait until August to wear the number to remind us all of how unenlightened the team was in taking forever to add a black player."

Ouch. Sad but true. There was no curse of the bambino, but there was the curse of passing on a chance to have Willie Mays and Ted Williams in the same outfield.

Mike V said...

You are spot on with this post. It would be really something if a white star donned #42 on Sunday.

I heard everyone on the Dodgers will be wearing it. That should be fun for the road announcers to call the game, since the Dodgers don't wear names on their backs. Hope Grady does a triple-switch just to screw with them!

Anthony Montalvo said...

I def agree with you.. David would Def rep the 42. the kid knows the game & respects the history.

Love your blog..:) Check out what I did at the Home Opener. Check out the interview with the Imus Van.

Respectfully yours,

Anthony Montalvo
Rock Me Tv

John said...

Hey Dave, long time no post. Heh. yeah, it bugs me to see the attitude people get when it comes to MLK and famous Black person. Black and White alike. I hate the chip on the shoulder thing. Those chips keeps getting bigger all the time. Its like the adage, "Can't see the forest for the trees." I like what Martin said that we are all created equal, Whether we are black or white. I recently learned of a situation where a black family started jumping a white family for saying something that is real touchy, and thing did'nt have anything to do with color. And all in the name of discrimination when there was no discrimination intended. And its the same with a white person. I don't care what color you are. We should live together and work together as one man and put aside the differences for the good. Ah well, did'nt mean to get into it. Missed being here.

metsgrrl said...


how do we know david wright didn't want to wear it?

i'm not trying to be argumentative here, but it seems like we're leaping to judgement.

look at another perspective: i'm a white kid from virginia, and i understand jackie robinson's legacy, but i'll never *really* understand, because I'm a white kid from virginia. who am I to take the honor of wearing jackie's number away from an african-american player? who am i to even horn in on this tribute?

can you see that perspective?

i mean, i'm mad as hell at Imus, but I'm not going to pretend that I feel the same outrage as my african-american girlfriends and i wouldn't presume for one second to speak for them or participate in something I thought was their province, because i'm a white girl from connecticut.

For us to expect MLB to handle this right is pointless. Look at the Civil Rights Game stupidity.

just another opinion.