In praise of Jackie Robinson

Loving baseball means recognizing its flaws.

It's difficult to imagine the intestinal fortitude displayed by Jackie Robinson when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, and thereafter, while facing outright hostility and worse from fans, opposing players, and others. He was a true profile in courage, and it cost him, in terms of the stress that helped to cause his death as a relatively young man.

The Red Sox, of course, have their own shameful history involving black ballplayers.

As ESPN and various sportswriters have reported in recent days, the irony on the eve of Jackie's historic debut is how fewer and fewer black Americans are playing baseball at the professional and collegiate level.

In my recent story on Rhody baseball, I mentioned how the RI Foundation endowed, in the name of Pawtucket-born athlete-umpire Hank Soar, a fund to raise interest in baseball in the inner city. It would be interesting to know how that effort is going.

This Sunday, whether you're watching the Sox, having the first softball practice of the season, or doing something entirely different, raise a salute to Jackie Robinson.

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