This week marks 40 years since Jackie Robinson’s death at age 53, and it’s a time to honor his commitment to equality of opportunity.

Many paused this past April 15th on Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day to commemorate what Robinson accomplished as baseball’s integration pioneer. Fewer will pause to contemplate Robinson’s last words spoken at the 1972 World Series.

“I’m going to be tremendously more pleased and more proud when I look at that third base coaching line one day and see a black face managing in baseball,” he said.

Those words, spoken less than 10 days before his death on Oct. 24, 1972, would represent Jackie Robinson’s constant agitating for Major League Baseball to enact a version of integration that was transformative and enduring, one that extended beyond the playing field to the front offices of teams and even the league office.

Although at that time black players filled about a quarter of major league rosters, Robinson was distressed at the limited scope of integration. There had yet to be a black manager in the major leagues, much less a black general manager or owner.

Baseball had nixed Robinson’s own aspirations to be a manager at the end of his playing days — much like those of Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, and possibly other pioneering blacks.

Opportunity: That was what Robinson had constantly agitated for as an integration pioneer and as part of the civil rights movement. His was a persistent voice, pressing for not just inclusion but for equality of opportunity.

To honor Jackie’s last words and vision, Major League Baseball ought to do more on Jackie Robinson Day than just have each ballplayer don his now-retired number 42.

Sure, the league has increased its support of its RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), and in 2000 its 30 franchises pledged $1.2 million to the Robinson Foundation (donated over a four-year period) to fund 120 $10,000 scholarships.

But an ad hoc approach to keeping alive the legacy of Robinson is not enough.

Major League Baseball must invest in Robinson’s vision to inspire African-American youth to play the game as well as pursue educational opportunities.

If we are all Jackie Robinson, a claim that Commissioner Bud Selig and others made in granting permission for each active player to don Robinson’s 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, then each major league franchise should donate $42,000 to the inner cities baseball program every Jackie Robinson Day.

Similarly, the commissioner’s office and Major League Baseball Players Association can combine to donate $4.20 for each fan that comes through the turnstiles that day.

In this way, Major League Baseball can create a permanent means of investing in and honoring Jackie Robinson’s legacy and thereby continue the work that Robinson began on and beyond the playing field.

Adrian Burgos Jr. is professor and director of graduate studies in the department of history at the University of Illinois. He can be reached at

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The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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