Here’s to you Mr. Robinson

Published 2:29 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Somewhere just outside Ozark, there’s a billboard that seemingly appears out of nowhere and just that quickly it’s gone.

“Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson” and a photo of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

In the blink of an eye, I’m singing. “Here’s to you “Mrs.” Robinson, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa – hey, hey, hey.” Simoon and Garfunkel. “The Graduate.” Every time, I glimpse that billboard, “hey, hey, hey.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Just the other day, traffic along Highway 231 had, strangely, slowed to a crawl. So, for the first time, I read the entire message on the billboard. 

“Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson…… Character-pass it on.”

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

Jackie Robinson was a Brooklyn Dodger.

My mama loved baseball. She was a dedicated Dodger fan, a “Brooklyn” Dodger fan – Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges. Brooklyn Dodgers were hard-nosed baseball players. They hit hard, threw hard, ran hard, slid hard and took pride in taking out an opposing baseman harder. Los Angeles Dodgers? Too soft. They should have stayed in Brooklyn where they play real baseball, Mama said.

Jackie Robinson was a Brooklyn Dodger kind of player. He was hard-nosed in on the field and he faced life with the same determination and grit he displayed on the field.

Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the United States. On April 15, 1947, he broke the “color line” of Major League Baseball when he appeared on the field for the National League Brooklyn Dodgers in a game against the Boston Braves. 

For suiting up in a previously white man’s game, Jackie Robinson endured mental and physical abuse from baseball fans and even other players. He was taunted but he didn’t lash back; he didn’t fight back. He was threatened; his family was threatened but Jackie Robinson handled the abuse with honor and grace. He was a man of strong character, strong enough to endure and overcome the abuse.  Jackie Robinson was a man of character, of integrity and, for that, he is, perhaps, more respected than for his play on the field. Character, a trait that seems to be vastly missing in today’s world.

If we, as Americans, each had just one grain of the character that Jackie Robinson’s possessed, then we would be better people and our country would be a better place.

Character …. Pass it on.