Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese: Teammates We Can All Look Up To

Happy Baseball Season! If you have a kid(s) playing ball this season, then I have to imagine your household is a lot like ours right now: Crazy busy fun. Well, we all love baseball here anyway, and this is the most fun four months (give-or-take) of the year for all of us, despite the increased late school nights, snack bar dinners, and other indiscretions that come with the territory!

This year, T moved up to Minor B. In our Little League, this is a huge jump from the previous Farm level. Rather than machine pitch, there’s kid-pitch. There’s base-stealing. Overall, these new skills call for higher expectations of the kids as it comes to baseball knowledge and also requires additional maturity now that the kids are 7-8-9 years old vs. 5-6-7.

One extra expectation from our coach this year is that each child learn about a historic player from the team name’s past. T’s team this season is the Dodgers, which meant Coach had a large and storied repository of players to choose from, so there really wasn’t much shortage for selection. Here’s who T was assigned:


I’m gonna fess up: I didn’t know who Pee Wee Reese was when he told me. I know now this is pretty shameful, and especially shameful given that I call myself a Dodger fan. To be fair, I am a spousal team convert for the good of the family. However and regardless of my ignorance, no excuses. That lack of knowledge on my part just meant that while T learned about who this person was, I’d get to learn, too.

The first place T and I go when we want to answer something new – in this case “Who was Pee Wee Reese?” – is where most go: Google. But when we want to learn something new we go to the library. Yep, old school, just like baseball itself. T went up to the librarian and explained that he’d been assigned to learn about this man named Pee Wee Reese and that he’d love to get a book with some information in it about him, if possible. Not only was that possible, but the librarian went a step further and came up with this most amazing piece of children’s non-fiction:


Yes, that’s none other than Mr. Jackie Robinson there on the cover of the book with T’s assigned player. Now I was really starting to feel horribly lame that I didn’t know who this Pee Wee Reese guy was. Thankfully, now I had a great book to read all about it.


Beautifully illustrated and well-written, Teammates succinctly explains that Pee Wee Reese was the first veteran professional baseball player to publicly and literally embrace a fellow player of color, who in this case turned out to be his new teammate and first professional player of color, Jackie Robinson. This may not sound like a huge deal in 2016, but in 1947 this was a hugely remarkable event. While of course the hiring of Jackie Robinson to a pro-level team was an important and historical act on the part of the Dodger’s ownership, it’s only when decisions of this gravity are accepted at a variety of levels that they can constitute some strong staying power.


Happy Jackie Robinson Day, RMT’ers!

ETA: About two minutes after the above blog went up, C sent over the following picture. It was taken (probably by me) while on vacation in New York City last summer and during our visit to MCU Park in Brooklyn to see a Cyclones baseball game.


FYI, that’s T standing with a statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese. Did I realize that at the time? Nope.

This addendum also serves as further testament to the fact that I am constantly learning something new every single day… and I’d have it no other way. 🙂