Missing the Point on Jackie Robinson Day
anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut was handled exceptionally well by Major League Baseball.
Allowing any player who wanted to honour Robinson to wear his number 42 for the day was an inspired idea - credit to Ken Griffey Jr. Recognizing Rachel Robinson, amazingly spry for 84, prior to the Dodgers game was another fine moment.
The occasion was also used to highlight the decline in African-American players in baseball has over the past 25 years. Dave Winfield spoke rather eloquently on the subject, citing a lack of affordable programs for economically disadvantaged youth. But the media hand-wringing on the subject was a little silly, as they reported that the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves didn't have a single African-American player.
Technically, this is true. But do you really think that Andruw Jones or Edgar Renteria would have been able to take the field back in 1935? Or Alex Rios, for that matter? Robinson's achievement was an enormous milestone in race relations in the United States, to be sure. But the larger achievement was that, from that point forth, a man on a baseball field be judged solely upon his ability. That this particular playing field would be level. Robinson's legacy extends to people throughout the world, not just Americans.