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When I taught, I suggested students look at Jackie Robinson’s life, his Canadian connection, and the his contributions to making the world a better place. The other day I read an article about Henry Aaron who was another great ambassador. The students were always surprised about how different life was 50-60 years ago and how much distance we still have to go in seeing the humanness dwelling in everyone.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

7 responses »

  1. I played professional baseball, the pressure, the level of skill is overwhelming at the highest level. Many a baseball star has been driven to the bible, to women, to booze or the bottle by the serious pressure cooker of professional athletics.

    How. Jackie Robinson shouldered a whole races burden to break the color barrier maybe the greatest thing ever accomplished in sport. He had to not react, endure racial slurs, being spiked and savagely called names by opposing teams and fans.

    It cost him his life, he dies young but this experience aged he decades.

    • I pointed that second paragraph out to my students. Jackie Robinson was the right person to take on the challenges. He was a competitive person who somehow kept that in check in the moments when he was disparaged and attacked. Thank you for a great comment Marty.

      • Let us not forget Branch Rickie in all of this. A white owner bucking the racism of his peers, bit what an intelligent man he was. He recruited Jackie not because he was the most talented, not denigrating his exceptional talent but men like satchel Paige and josh Gibson are still legends.

        He picked Jackie because he needed someone to not react to the taunts, spikings, and cruelty, hatred in fact.

        Jackie did retaliate later to those who deserved it later in his career.

        I played for Frank Robinson, was MVP in both leagues and it made me ashamed to hear what fans in the south called him because his skin color was different.

        Sports is where, along with war that barriers are knocked down because of trying to win, competitively together. MaMany things play out in sport before regular society.

      • Your last paragraph echoes what a colleague of mine at Gonzaga said about the military. He said people who lay their lives down for each other don’t worry as much about skin color as others. Military and sports do play a role in changing society.

        I used to tell my students that Jackie Robinson was the right person and was chosen for being the right person in a similar way to Rosa Parks being the right person. You are right that it took Branch Rickey’s insight into who Jackie Robinson and I think teammates had to begin to see Jackie Robinson as a great ball player. I know that one decision made was that Jackie Robinson played his AAA ball in Montreal where, usually, crowds did not taunt him.

  2. Wonderful share Ivon. An icon to be remembered and still learn from. Thank you.

  3. May I also add that others were cast in a position not of ball players but ambassadors of the game, fairness and compassion. When a small white shortstop put his arm around Jackie Robinson, it was a action that transcended sport.

    Pee wee Reece had a choice, a difficult choice, he stood near Robinson and knew what hate was aimed at him. What an incredible act by a normal guy.

    To have all this happen to da bums as they were called in Flatbush, ebbets field.

    New York has three teams back then. The three best center fielders in baseball, Mickey mantle, willie mays and duke snider I believe, all playing in the same town.


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