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Letters to the Sports Editor

Letters to the Sports Editor


To the Sports Editor:

Re “For Jackie Robinson’s Centennial, a Display of Rarely Seen Photographs,” Jan. 31: In my 80s now. The special section about Jackie Robinson is a forever treasure.

In my boyhood in Logansport, Ind., a childhood friend of my father’s was Johnny (Red) Corriden, who made the big leagues and was a Brooklyn Dodgers coach in the 1940s. At the end of the season, he would stop by our home in Logansport, and each visit Red would say, “Here Johnny” and present me with a brand-new official major league baseball.

This writer, only 7 when this started and 1,000 miles from Brooklyn, became a lifelong Dodgers fan. Along came 1946, and Robinson was at Montreal. Everything possible was read about him, and then came 1947. (Corriden by then was a Yankees coach.)

My local drugstore for some wild reason had a Jackie Robinson comic book for sale. With 10 cents from my allowance, I got the comic book and was reading it on the front porch when my father, a white man born in 1891, saw me with it and said, “Son, it’s all right that you root for that colored and all right that you read that comic book, but do not let anyone know about this.”

For a 10-year-old who believed that his parents were always right, there was stunning mystification. In the early spring of 1947, we rode the train to Chicago to see the Dodgers play the Cubs. We had good seats near the visitors’ dugout (somehow Corriden arranged this, even though he was with the Yankees).

As not everyone knows, Robinson played first base his rookie year. When he stepped out of the dugout, in the Dodgers’ traveling grays, and made his pigeon-toed trot to first base, all at once two things were known by me: My all-time sports hero was right before my eyes, and my father had feet of clay.

This watershed moment has affected my views about civility forever. On the 40th anniversary of Robinson’s rookie year, I sent a short note to Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow, simply stating that his heroism had reached and forever touched a 10-year-old a thousand miles away.

John F. Dunn

Decatur, Ill.

My fanatical loyalty to the distant Brooklyn Dodgers led to many fights and much peer mockery (as the Dodgers lost too many World Series) when I was 6 in a 1950 Larchmont, N.Y., neighborhood of Yankees fans.

Jackie Robinson, my hero, ran faster, hit more cannily, executed double plays and taunted opposition pitchers and infielders with greater skill, guts and swagger than anyone else in the game (to the best of my unstatistical knowledge). Stealing home, to my later Little Leaguer’s mind, was nearly impossible, but Robinson succeeded 20 times and attempted even more.

At first, I did not know his race. I did not understand such categories. He was just the greatest ballplayer. A little older, I knew better and learned that getting to first base was only one of the difficulties that faced my American hero (in every sense of that word).

So when “next year” became “this year” (some readers will understand that phrase), tears came to my eyes. When the Dodgers moved to L.A., it happened again. When Jackie Robinson died young, I wept. When I read The Times’s special section, once more I cried.

Donald Lateiner

Delaware, Ohio

As deserving as Jackie Robinson is of all the attention he has received, it is a shame that Larry Doby is all but ignored. Doby broke the color barrier in the American League two months after Robinson broke in with the Dodgers. He faced all the same difficulties as Robinson, overcame all the same hurdles and persevered to have a great career, helping Cleveland win the 1948 World Series. Yet we see no biopics or retrospectives of Doby. No. 42 has been retired from baseball, but No. 14 goes unhonored. Perhaps playing in New York is the reason for the difference. But whatever the reason, there is no doubt that Doby is in fact deserving of recognition to the same degree as Robinson.

Mark B. Cohn

Naples, Fla.



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