There’s a baseball game to be played and this is going to be the place to talk about it. It’s also Jackie Robinson Day, and this is as good of a day as any to share what the legendary Henry Aaron had to say in 1997 about another fellow legend who helped pave the way for him: Jackie Robinson.
In his later years, after blacks were secure in the game, Jackie let go of his forbearance and fought back. In the quest to integrate baseball, it was time for pride to take over from meekness. And Jackie made sure that younger blacks like myself were soldiers in the struggle.
When I look back at the statistics of the late 1950’s and 60’s and see the extent to which black players dominated the National League (the American League was somewhat slower to integrate), I know why that was. We were on a mission. And, although Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and I were trying to make our marks individually, we understood that we were on a collective mission. Jackie Robinson demonstrated to us that, for a black player in our day and age, true success could not be an individual thing.
It’s a really interesting article to read when you consider the time period in which Aaron wrote the article and just how much has changed from 1997 to 2021 — especially now that there’s (at least) 100 players who are donating their gameday salaries for Jackie Robinson Day to The Players Alliance. Anyways, hopefully y’all will take some time to read that article at some point today and also here’s hoping that Ronald Acuña Jr. can get some serious help in hopefully taking the Braves back to the winner’s circle this afternoon.