WWJD? What would Jackie do?
Can we spend a few moments on this special day — the 60th anniversary of the most important event in the history of American sport — thinking about that?
Can we look back on all the commotion of the past couple of weeks and ask ourselves: What would Jackie Robinson do?
Can we try to imagine what this wonderful athlete, this courageous pioneer, this great man would've done if confronted with the issues that generated so many headlines on the way to today's celebration?
Certainly, it's something worth pondering. And, maybe, we'll be better for it — because Robinson, who broke the color barrier in major league baseball on this date six decades ago at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, was so much more than a historic sports figure.
He was, arguably, the most compelling role model the sports world has given us. He was a man of strong character and tough discipline and tremendous class, filled with grace, dignity and poise. He was the type of principled person all of us should strive to be.
That he also was the greatest all-around athlete this country has produced merely provided him with a stage.
It was his mental and emotional makeup, as much as his physical talents, that made him the perfect choice for a mission that forever changed the fabric of America.
Because failure wasn't an option.
If he didn't make it — if he couldn't take it — the entry of black players into big-league baseball might've stalled. And there was no way Robinson, a tenacious competitor and a fiercely proud man, would allow that to happen.
Instead, he became the 1947 National League Rookie of the Year, then the 1949 NL MVP, then, in 1962, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. And along the way, he blazed a trail that went beyond the ballpark, beyond the sports arena, beyond anything that seemed possible at the time.
Certainly, no athlete has made a greater societal impact.
Not Babe Ruth. Not Jesse Owens. Not even Muhammad Ali.
With all due respect for Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his life to the cause, Robinson laid the foundation for what became the civil rights movement in America by staking his claim to racial equality in our national pastime.
In fact, Robinson's culture-changing debut arrived one year before President Truman desegregated the U.S. military; seven years before the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional; and eight years before Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus.
Through his perseverance and determination — pitchers threw at him, base runners spiked him and hostile crowds verbally abused him — Robinson eventually won acceptance, respect, even admiration from fans and fellow players.
An Army lieutenant during World War II, he showed everyone how to combat racism. And, ultimately, he paved the way for King's momentous march through our nation's conscience.
So as we commemorate Robinson's place in history today — which, disgracefully, isn't a national holiday — we ought to use this occasion to examine the news-making stories of the past couple of weeks and ask: What would Jackie do?
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
A look at Jackie
Images from the life of the major leagues' first black baseball player and civil rights activist.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.