Curtis Dahlgren
LOOK! A short course in civility, by Jackie Robinson #42
By Curtis Dahlgren
June 5, 2017

"Beef if you want to, but don't wave your arms." – Umpire Jocko Conlon to Jackie

WHERE'S THE BEEF? THE DONALD WON 307 ELECTORAL VOTES. And those weren't Russian votes to make America greater. Excuses, excuses, and more excuses! Even the "comedienne" Griffin is trying to justify her beheading stunt today:

In a press announcement she posted on Twitter, [her lawyer] Bloom said that she and Griffin will "explain the true motivation behind the image, and respond to the bullying from the Trump family she has endured."

Talk about bullying! Holding up a severed head is just about going all the way in bullying, but her motivation was "true"? The Left had best be careful, because the lay members of the Democrat party aren't that stupid. And it was Jackie, #42, who set the true example of peaceful "action" a decade before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Several years ago I came upon an old LOOK magazine – December 19, 1950 – and I set it on a book shelf, intending to read it when I "got around to it." Yesterday I got around to it, and wow! Two good things happened on my current visit to the Upper Peninsula: On Memorial Day I got to play Abraham Lincoln in a parade, and then I've gotten to read Robinson's actual words on a recipe for civility. By extension, Jackie in absentia could be a helper of "peacemakers" around the world. Thank God for the Internet. The story of #42:

Jackie's education gave him a leg up on controlling his emotions with his logic, but it wasn't easy for him; growing up in cosmopolitan southern California, he experienced very little "bullying." Besides, he was a football star at UCLA, but his entrance to major league baseball in 1947 was a whole 'nother ball game. There were the boos, the beanings, and even the umpires seemed to make "mistakes" that went against him. He was ejected from more than one game for "beefing" and in St. Louis one day, he had to exit through the Cardinals' dugout in a town that was still quite hostile.

The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, was another hostile town, and one day Jocko Conlon called him out at second base, by "mistake." When Jackie jumped up and down like the kid he was, Jocko wagged his finger at him. Jackie wrote:

"I knew he meant it. The promise I had made to Rachel flashed through my mind. So I kept quiet and trotted back to my position. Still, I didn't want Conlon to think the victory was wholly his. The next inning, I couldn't resist telling him, 'It wasn't you who shut me up. It was my wife.'"

Branch Rickey had virtually ordered Jackie to marry his girl friend when he signed Jackie to his first contract, knowing that it would stabilize him for the ordeals to come. I saw Jackie play in Milwaukee in 1955, the year the Dodgers won the World Series. By that time, the bullying had abated and they had Junior Gilliam, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe in addition to that first "colored" player (Jackie's word). Which reminds me of another anecdote he recounted:

"I've learned a lot about trying to understand people, and some of it has been doubly valuable because it didn't come from books. In the last month of [the 1950] season, when we were battling to stay alive in the pennant race, a rather poorly clad little man shouted to me from the stands, as I was reaching into the bat rack for my bat. 'Jackie,' he said, 'hit a home run and I'll give you a watermelon!' I replied to him rather gruffly, I guess.

"After the game, Harold Parrott, the club's traveling secretary, brought the fellow right into our clubhouse. Parrott felt sure there had been a misunderstanding. The little guy was almost in tears. 'I've always rooted for you, Jackie, and now you treat me like this!' he said.

" . . Much to my chagrin, it turns out the fellow was a hard-working fruit peddler. Even now, his horse and wagon were outside the stadium. He told me that he had given watermelons to other Dodgers like Gil Hodges. How was he to know I wouldn't like one too? It was the best he had to offer me. Never had I felt worse . . . Now, I told him, I knew I had been wrong. 'But,' I added lamely, 'a lot of people shout things at me from the stands because I'm colored, you know, and I thought . . ' My voice trailed off, but his didn't.

"'Never hear them, Jackie. Me, they call me a guinea and a wop, and I just smile and sell my fruit. We're in business with a lot of people, Jackie, you and me.'"

POINT IS: We are dealing with "a lot of people" out there all over the world, and President Trump means business. We don't have time for another civil war, or pointless probes of imaginary election "hacking." Trump doesn't have time for mindless distractions or game-playing. Or sociological engineering. Enough said? Jackie Robinson said:

"I'm no sociologist, as I told the House Un-American Activities Committee that time when I went to Washington to testify. I'm just an expert on being a colored American, with 30 years at it." [my emphasis]

It would be remiss not to mention that both Jackie Robinson and Abraham Lincoln were Republicans. Who knew? That didn't make them "un-American." Which reminds me of a story. In the 1865 biography of Lincoln – which I own – a visitor to the White House was telling Honest Abe about a gathering of blacks in the Deep South in what they called their "Praise House." A disagreement arose about who or "What" Massa Linkum was. They couldn't quite grasp the concept of a President, but they knew that when his army came, the slave owners fled. After hearing several theories about Lincoln's power, the oldest member of the congregation stood up and shushed all the rest.

"You don't know nothin' 'bout what you be talkin' 'bout," he said. Looking toward the ceiling, he said, "Massa Linkum, he know ebrything; he be evbrywhere; he walk de erf like de LORD!"

In LOOK's "We're Winning the one that Counts," Jackie Robinson told a story about his minor league season for Montreal. During a spring training game, during a steal of second base, the pitcher threw the ball in the dirt so he headed for third. The base coach waved him home, but alas he was called out. A flood of boos went up from the stands.

"It was a long walk back to that dugout. The people in the stands were deriding me, really pouring it on. Through it all, the ballplayers sat there in the dugout, stony-faced, saying nothing. ' They've made up their minds already, I thought, that I can't make it.'

"Just then a boy stood up in the front row of the grandstand. He was a small boy, and he was white. I think I shall always be able to hear his shrill little voice until the day I die. 'Attaboy, Jackie,' he screeched. 'Nice try, Jackie'. . . . I was hungry for a few more words like those."

I can relate to all of that. The Bible tells us to think on whatsoever things are "true" and "of good report," but the nattering nabobs of negativism are again trying to drown out the voices of Hope. Speaking of "rounding the bases," I could always run faster in a circle than in a straight line, and in a softball league game one time I hit a ball over the right fielder's head and knew I had an easy triple, but I ran extra hard just to see what might happen. The third base coach waved me home, but I was out, alas. My manager was rather stony-faced, even though at that point I had 8 total bases in eight at bats. I once got cut from the high school baseball team while batting 1.000 in practice, because of my size. I once played for a team that lost 23 games in a row, but later played for a team that won 12 in a row. There must be a lesson in there somewhere. Robinson remembered the night he got ejected in St. Louis:

"As I left the field by way of the St. Louis dugout, Eddie Dyer, the Cardinal manager, joked about the fine I would be plastered with. And a couple of the Cardinals kidded me about being smart enough to get thrown out so I would have half the hot evening off, under a cool shower. Things have sure changed here, I thought. Everybody's fairness comes to the surface, if you give it a chance. And it hasn't taken 15 years . . .

"Inprovement? Sure, there's been a lot. The road ahead is brighter and, as I've told you, there are many encouraging signs along the way. But none of us should let down now."

Thus endeth the lesson for this week. The Civil War is over. New York City isn't under water. And the Donald is the Prez, fair and square.


© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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