Monday, April 16, 2012

Vin Scully, on the Trials of Jackie Robinson

Vin Scully returned to the broadcast booth on Jackie Robinson Day.

Vin Scully, from yesterday's game:

Jackie Robinson Day.

And I've been thinking, since I traveled with Jackie for about, oh, a little more than seven years. He was sensitive, as you can certainly well imagine, having gone through all of the insults, everything else that went when he played.

For instance, one of the managers, when Jackie first played, his name was Ben Chapman, who was kind of a volatile character. Anyway, in his playing days, Jackie came up to hit. Chapman threw a black cat out onto the field.

And there were a lot of words. Jackie had the feeling that guys would try to cut him if they could if he were covering the bag at second or first.

I mean, it was extremely hard. Plus, fans were difficult.

And I remember one time, Dodgers were playing in Philadelphia. It was a very, very, very hot day. And a gentleman, a good-natured soul, as it turned out, was just outside the one door at old Shibe Park, where the visiting team would come out that one door, the bus waiting for the team would be right at the curb. And all you'd do is you'd go out the door, step on the bus and eventually when the bus was full, go to the hotel.

And it was really hot. This man had brought a small folding table — he was a big Dodger fan. He had several huge watermelons.

And as each player would come out through that door, the man would cut a nice slice of ice-cold watermelon. And I'm telling you, it was wonderful.

In the old days, those clubhouses really didn't have much air conditioning. A player would shower and by the time he'd get to the bus, he'd be wringing wet again.

So anyway, as a player would come out, this man would hand him a piece of watermelon, and the player would get on the bus.

And Jackie was always trying to be late because of the huge crowds that he drew wherever he went — talking about pressure. I saw a beautiful beige suit — Don Newcombe wears a similar suit to this day — destroyed by pen marks.

That's going to go foul down the line.

Anyway, Jackie stopped. And I'm not saying people did it on purpose, but there were an awful lot of clumsy people to scar that suit. But they, but they would do it.

Anyway, Jackie waited and waited and waited, and finally came out the door and the man handed him a slice of watermelon.

Well, especially in those days, if you were black, they always tied you in with a slice of watermelon. I don't know where that first started, but that's the way it was.

And the man handed Jack the watermelon, and Jack was about ready — although he had remarkable self-discipline — but he was really going to blow his top at this good-natured soul.

And only after several of the players realized right away, Uh oh, Jack— So they were hollering at Jack, It's okay, it's okay.

And he looked at the guy and looked at the watermelon, and then the other guys on the club were holding up rinds, saying, See? We all have it, it's good.

And Jackie said, Well, okay, and he took the watermelon and got on the bus.

But that was just a small insight into the world in which he lived, trying to get in to the world where, quote, "they" lived.

Remarkable. And he did, and did it so well.

Nick Hundley, infield single, grounded to third, one for two....

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers


Unknown said...

this is fantastic.