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I saw this fine biography for the first time last night, and can recommend it wholeheartedly. Parts of it are dramatized (Pee Wee Reese's hug, Enos Slaughter's spiking, etc.), but for the most part, it's accurate and absolutely based in truth. There's something I've been meaning to write here for the past ten-or-so years, and this is as good a place as any (although I may have written it before). When the Rickey was named as DC's "official" drink in 2008, I wrote Chantal Tseng, and encouraged her to make a classic Rickey with a twig in it (perhaps a twig of Rosemary, or Thyme, or maybe just a Kukicha tea stick). I suggested that she make it "her own" drink, and call it the Branch Rickey - an idea that, to this very day, I *love*. She wrote me back and thought it was clever, but never ran with the idea. Many years ago, Derek Brown started a thread called "Creating The Don Rockwell Cocktail," and I thought it would be nice to have Champagne with a splash of Cognac, but I like the idea of the "Branch Rickey" even more - not just because it's a clever name (though I *love* the name), but because I think it would work very well as a cocktail. So, who in town is going to make "the Don Rockwell Cocktail": the Branch Rickey? NB - To those who don't know what a hero Branch Rickey is: If there had been no Branch Rickey, there would have been no Jackie Robinson. I won't say he's as important as Abraham Lincoln, but I can't name five white people who have done more to advance the cause of racial equality than Branch Rickey - I'm not even sure I can name two.
As an unrelated side note, you may notice that all three players have Latino names, and in fact, all three are Cuban in ethnicity, with only Martinez having been born in America to a Cuban-American father and a Spanish-American mother. I have a personal interest in Latino baseball players, especially the pioneers, and I notice these things - I suspect very few people can name the first Latino major-leaguer (it was Lou Castro, who, despite his last name, ironically *wasn't* Cuban; he was born in Medellín, Colombia, and made his debut with the American League-champion 1902 Philadelphia Athletics). I suspect if you asked the average person to guess which year the first Latino man played in the Major Leagues, they'd guess something much more recent than 1902. Incidentally, I wrote my freshman English term paper arguing that Japanese home-run king, Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants, could have been a star in the major leagues - this is well before any Japanese player had ever excelled in the majors, although Masanori Murakami from Yamanashi, Japan, played for the 1964 San Francisco Giants - the title of the paper, which was admittedly a piece of shit, was "Oh, Yes!" ... there was almost no data then, and only a couple of articles had been written about the subject (there were card catalogs and microfiche; not computers), and I could only find *one article* that supported my hypothesis that a great Japanese player such as Oh could succeed in the major leagues - not bad insight for an 18-year-old kid, huh? Frank Deford is a very well-known sports writer now, but give him credit: He was the *only person* to have the guts to write an article such as this at such an early date: Aug 15, 1977 - "Move Over for Oh-San" by Frank Deford on si.com
Today is Jackie Robinson Day, when every player on every major-league team will wear jersey #42. It is the only day of the season when #42 is permitted to be worn, as MLB retired the number from every team. Special mention also to Branch Rickey, who had the foresight, wisdom, and humanity to hand-select Robinson for the chore of being named the first black MLB player, because Rickey knew Robinson was tough enough, and gentle enough, to endure the racial taunting. And also to Bill Veeck, who attempted integration in 1942, but was thwarted. Not enough attention is paid to these two men, without whom, Jackie Robinson would most likely be in the Hall of Fame as a Negro League player. In honor of one of the great Americans in history, Jackie Robinson. And some trivia (which is too important to be trivia): We all know that Jessie Owens won the 200-meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but almost nobody knows that the silver medalist for the same event, finishing 0.4 seconds behind Owens, was Mack Robinson, Jackie's older brother.