So tomorrow is the last day of February. And with February being considered Black History Month, I figured I’d use this last flashback moment this month to write about something tied to black history. Almost instantly, I’m reminded of my first experience with black history. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: my 1st black history report.
How I first came across this moment? I was in 3rd grade at Elyton Elementary School when February 1994 rolled around. My teacher all told us to pick a famous black person to write about. I immediately thought of Atlanta Hawks forward Kevin Willis…something about that thing he did with his arms when he celebrated. My teacher—Miss Williams—had a different thought for me specifically though. Out of her desk, she pulled out a copied picture of a baseball player. The name underneath read Jackie Robinson. She told me that this is who she wanted me to do my report on. Even though I was a fan of baseball, I was still relatively young in age (only 9 at the time) so I didn’t know a whole lot about the historic players of the sport. At that point in time, I thought Ken Griffey, Jr. was the greatest player to ever play baseball. When I got home to tell my mother about who I “drew” for my report, she told me that Robinson played for the Dodgers…my favorite baseball team. Over the next week, I spent time at Smithfield Library looking through the encyclopedia and reading books about Jackie Robinson. I ended up putting together a nice report, complete with a poster board of select statistics and photos.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, it meant a lot to me that my teacher thought so much of my love for baseball to hold back Jackie Robinson just for me. She, more than anybody, knew of my love for baseball and she even treated me to a Birmingham Barons baseball game. Learning about Jackie Robinson was really fun and it led to me learning a lot more about the history of the game.
What it means to me now? Today, it still means the same to me. That report on Jackie Robinson is probably why I’m such a numbers and history freak when it comes to baseball. I find myself looking at all the metrics…all the history on certain players, certain teams, certain postseason rounds. To think that it is possible I could’ve passed on everything I know about baseball for Kevin Willis is absolutely funny to me.