The day after baseball honored Jackie Robinson we were reminded why there won’t be another like him anytime soon.
LaTroy Hawkins tried to pay tribute to Roberto Clemente – a man who dedicated his life to helping people and was killed in a plane crash trying to bring relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua – and he was booed and mocked.
Carlos Delgado tried to bring attention to a war a few years ago – that war has now killed hundreds of thousands of people including over 4,000 Americans and 89 New Yorkers – and he was booed and mocked.
Gary Sheffield has tried to speak about racial issues – ones that continue to hamper baseball and cripple this country – and he was booed and mocked.
Hawkins changed his number yesterday and Delgado now stands for a song in the seventh inning and Sheffield just plays ball. They did their best and it was as good as anyone has done since Robinson. But it still wasn’t enough to overcome the angry mob of a society that we have become.
Robinson spent his life trying to open people’s minds and overcome hatred. He spoke out against everything from social and economic injustice to the Vietnam War. His voice gave baseball a conscience and a heart, but his legacy is soiled every time players like Hawkins and Delgado and Sheffield are shouted down.
Jackie Robinson deserves better from this game and this country.