Everyone at Yankee Stadium took a moment to reflect on the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There wasn’t enough time to consider all the work of the most important social leader in this country’s history, but it was a nice moment. Then they played the National Anthem and played ball.
LaTroy Hawkins came in to pitch the eighth inning wearing number 21 to reflect on the work of another social leader and one of baseball’s greatest players: Roberto Clemente.
Hawkins had a bad night. The six earned runs were the most he’s ever allowed as a reliever. Some in the crowd booed and some did even worse. It was a bad moment for them.
Hawkins focused on doing the best for his teammates and then he stood in the clubhouse and answered every question about a bad night.
“It happens like that sometimes,” Hawkins said. “All you can do is turn the page and get ready for tomorrow. The bullpen did a good job of keeping us in the game and I let it get away.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he continued. “I’ll keep the memory short and bounce back.”
Dr. King spent his life bouncing back and so did Clemente. Negro Leaguer and baseball lifer Buck O’Neil may have bounced back better than anyone.
“Buck went through an awful lot,” Hawkins said recently. “But he never had a spiteful bone in his body about how he was treated. That’s a guy you have to respect.”
LaTroy Hawkins is a guy you have to respect, too.