Yesterday, I ended with a quote from Jackie Robinson that was recalled by Hank Aaron. It doesn’t get better than that.
I once shook hands with Mickey Mantle and met Reggie Jackson on a sidewalk, but that quote is the closest I’ve come to greatness.
The greatness comes from Robinson’s humanity. "…I cannot as an individual rejoice in the good things I have been permitted to work for and learn while the humblest of my brothers is down in a deep hole hollering for help and not being heard."
The words have stayed with me and I believe they’re a challenge. Robinson would like that because he challenged everyone. He challenged his teammates. He challenged his competitors. He challenged his country. He challenged Hank Aaron. Most of all he challenged himself. It allowed him to achieve greatness and it made him old before his time. But the challenges kept coming. Only nine days before his death, Robinson challenged baseball to consider hiring one of the many qualified black managers.
He didn’t live to see it, but Robinson’s challenge helped make it happen. I’m sure he’d be proud of that. I’m just as sure he’d be disappointed with our society. The humblest of our brothers are still down in a deep hole hollering for help and not being heard.
That quote, which rings so true to Hank Aaron, is Jackie Robinson’s challenge to us all.