Torii Hunter balks on Jackie Robinson Day
Sixty years after Jackie Robinson entered the clubhouse at Ebbets Field to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke the color barrier, Major League Baseball honors him. The .311 career hitter and Hall of Famer who helped Brooklyn win six pennants and one World Series endured vicious taunts and insults from fans and players throughout his career. In tribute to him, select players from every team will wear Robinson’s No. 42 and in some cases, the entire roster will wear his number which has been retired in all of baseball for the past ten years.
The Star Tribune said Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter was originally set to be the only player on the Twins to wear No. 42 for the game, but as more than 200 players throughout baseball will honor Robinson by wearing his number, Hunter has been quoted as saying the tribute has been diluted now that anyone can join in.
The New York Daily News told the story that might explain to Torii Hunter why the more players who wear No. 42, the more meaning there would be in the tribute:
Robinson’s teammate, Gene Hermanski, remembered the day in 1948 when Robinson received yet another death threat if he dared take the field. In the locker room Dodgers manager Burt Shotten asked the players what they wanted to do. Hermanski said maybe they should all wear No. 42, then he won’t know who to shoot.
In my opinion, Hunter selfish attitude misses the point of Jackie Robinson Day. The Star Tribune article said Hunter helped his sixth-grade son write a paper on Jackie Robinson that earned 110%. As much as Hunter declares he’s an expert on Robinson, Hermanski’s bold offer of solidarity isn’t included on Wikipedia, so Hunter doesn’t know about it. I hope that Hunter father and son soon realize there is even more to learn about their hero and more to learn from him.