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Why Jackie?

Updated: 2 days ago



So some people know I collect Jackie Robinson and that I look up to the player and the person.  Some who listen to my podcast know the “why” but I do sometimes get asked “how did I get to that point on a player who passed away a month prior to my own birth in November of 1972?”


Frankly, it starts off as my father Barry’s story. He grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, just 9 minutes from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn that Ebbets field occupied. In New York you were a fan of one of three baseball teams: the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Yankees or the New York Giants. My dad was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan from the start and got to Ebbets field as much as he could. He would sneak in with friends occasionally when they were short on funds to buy tickets. Jackie Robinson's 1947 debut was a big deal obviously to many but to 9-year-old Barry Newman it was an incredible moment in time. His mother, my grandmother Rose raised him to be accepting of all people. Years later she raised me and instilled those same values of human decency in me. My dad witnessed first hand many Dodger fans heckling and throwing racial slurs at their very own player, it endeared him even more to Jackie to see him not only turn the other cheek but to perform like an all-star in those circumstances. He saw Jackie sometimes before and after games interacting positively with fans including him. He also witnessed the changing of people's attitudes and their prejudices, including people he personally knew. Jackie was changing the narrative locally and nationally and my dad was there first hand to witness it.


The Dodgers were gone 15 years already when I was born at home by the way in 1972 but people from Brooklyn are a proud group that enjoy telling stories that make up the fabric of the borough. I learned a lot about the Brooklyn Dodgers team but like my dad Jackie stood out tall to me. Not only was he a tremendous athlete of many sports, he was a tremendous person who made impacts on the field but more importantly off the field especially on the societal level. A fierce competitor who was so loyal to the team that gave him a chance to break the color barrier that when he was traded to the crosstown rival New York Giants, he retired rather than play for them. My dad lit up sharing baseball stories with me but even more so when speaking about Jackie. Soon enough every essay or book report I did was about number 42 to the nauseum of my teachers who would have to say “Jackie's great John, but pick a different person this time, please!”. Soon I was collecting cards but didn't have any “real” Jackie's as my budget didn't allow it yet. As I entered the dealer realm around age 15 in 1987 those opportunities started to become more available as my card income increased. Soon the real Jackie collection started. Through the years I'd be talked into selling some of them, then reacquire them. I foolishly ignored a few opportunities to acquire the 1948 Leaf rookie card of my idol. That shortsightedness cost me not only years to own it but also the more money it would cost to acquire it as well. It wasn't till a couple years back after a couple good shows and selling a few other Jackie's that my grail card was finally acquired.


Like a passing of the torch I've shared my knowledge of Jackie to my own son Jordan. Will I pass on the Jackie Robinson leaf rookie to him??  That's a whole nother story…



3 Comments


Heavy J Studios
Heavy J Studios
3 days ago

Great choice for a player to admire and collect. Bigger than baseball would be an understatement.


One correction I’ll offer is that the nixed NYG trade wasn’t about loyalty. Jackie had already made up his mind to retire but had negotiated an exclusive scoop with Look magazine. In other words, Jackie wouldn’t played for any team that year, not even the Dodgers.

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John Newman
John Newman
3 days ago
Replying to

There are two versions too that. I think he did an interview stating that, tongue and cheek.

The Hall in Cooperstown uses that audio and has displays and video using that quote as part of it.

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Kenny Keefer
Kenny Keefer
5 days ago

Awesome backstory on your love of Jackie and origin of your PC. I'm a Cubbies collector myself. Shout out to Kayla for recommending your article!

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