Thursday, April 16, 2009

42 Tribute Good But Not Enough

Everyone in baseball wore Number 42 as MLB honored Jackie Robinson who broke baseball's color barrier in 1946. And while the tribute was worthwhile and very fitting for a man of brave character, the tribute could have been more inclusive. This takes nothing against Robinson's accomplishment and its historic consequences. But others paved the way as well and they could have and should have been included.

For example, all American League clubs could have worn Larry Doby's Number 14. Doby was just as much a pioneer as the first black man in the American League (1947) and his struggle was little different than Robinson's. All the managers could have worn Frank Robinson's Number 20 as Robinson was the first black manager in 1976. And although umpires did not wear uniform numbers in the American League up until 1980, Emmett Ashford could have been celebrated as the first black umpire in 1966.

All the men listed above had great courage, worked hard to achieve what they accomplished and could tell horror stories on top of horror stories. Look up Emmett Ashford in Wikipedia and read what he had to endure just to umpire his first game in the minor leagues. Ashford, who died in 1980 should be recognized by the umpires union and an honorary uniform number should be retired in his honor.

And how about Buck O'Neal as the first black coach in Major League Baseball when he coached for the Cubs in 1962. All the coaches could have worn his number.

Again, this post takes nothing away from Robinson and his place in history. But he didn't suffer--and overcome--alone. Ashford, Doby and Frank Robinson all overcame great hardships through determination and hard work. They deserve their due too.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I think Doby, in particular, has always been overshadowed by Robinson. And that's something that should be rectified.