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#42

If you watched any baseball today you saw something I don’t think has ever happened before and may never happen again.  I turned on the Red Sox – Rays game and noticed the pitcher was wearing #42 and so was the hitter he was facing.  As a matter of fact, the catcher was wearing #42 and so was the first baseman.  Everyone was wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.  It was 65 years ago today that he broke the racial barrier as a player for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
 
Not to take anything away from what Robinson did in this regard because it was monumental, but what often gets lost in celebrating this aspect of his legacy is what a great baseball player --- make that athlete, Robinson was.  At UCLA, he lettered in baseball, football, basketball, and track.  He won the long jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship with a leap of 24’10.5’’.  In his ten year baseball career he was rookie of the year (1947), MVP (1949), a six time All-Star, and played in six World Series.  His career batting average was .311.  Jackie Robinson didn’t make it to the major leagues because he was black; he made it because he could play the game! 
The thing I liked most about today was that at least numerically, there was no distinguishing the players --- they were all #42.  Most of the time sports are about separating yourself or your team from the competition.  You want to out-perform and outscore them.  That’s the nature of competition and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Well, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t equate it with life.  What happens inside the lines is a game; what happens outside the lines is life.  Sports are a wonderful diversion but they turn into a perversion when we take them outside the lines.  The beauty of the games today were that in that in a culture that sometimes loses track of where the lines are, this was a nice reminder.  For just a day, there was a unity that transcended anything on the scoreboard and reflected the truth that life is ultimately complementary rather than competitive.
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