Glanville honors Jackie Robinson Day with poem for Civil Rights Game
Below is the text of ESPN MLB analyst Doug Glanville’s poem that will air as part of ESPN2’s telecast of the Civil Rights Game tonight.
Jackie Robinson is our diamond.
He gave us his infinite strength, by pointing us to a future, when we were not ready.
He was transparent, by letting his light shine through, even in the face of hate.
He conducted a symphony that defined the best of what it means to be a team, to love one another as one.
He took the heat and tension generated by his presence and cooled our irrational fears so that we could find true love in our greatest game.
Jackie Robinson is who we are, what we play, when we remember, where we came from, how we forgive, why we can endure the impossible.
It is fitting that baseball is played on a diamond, a jewel that depends on its priceless history being present at all times.
To remind us, that our past reflects how we embrace our greatest future.
He touched the four corners of our heart, took us home so that we all can be 42, not just today,
but every day.
Tonight, Major League Baseball marks its Jackie Robinson Day celebration with the Civil Rights Game between the host Los Angeles Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
ESPN MLB analyst and nine-year MLB veteran Doug Glanville, who will be joined by Jon Sciambi and fellow analyst Rick Sutcliffe on the game call, has written and voiced-over a poem and video essay about Hall Of Famer Robinson’s impact that will be aired during the telecast. This telecast marks the first in ESPN’s new MLB initiative called “The Global Game” to celebrate specific cultures and histories.
What inspired the poem?
“Diamonds are tough, brilliant, transparent, and nearly indestructible. They represent enduring love and commitment. That is Jackie Robinson,” Glanville said.
He spoke with Front Row about the poem and Robinson.
What does it mean to be a part of this tribute to Jackie Robinson?
The life and choices of Jackie Robinson are a huge part of what make up this great game and it is an honor to be able to participate in expressing why we need to keep his legacy in the middle of our game’s heart. Baseball is generational, so I hope young fans will be able to touch the fabric of this story and add their own twist.
How have you related to Jackie Robinson? How has this affected you?
His impact on me and I will venture to say, on all of us, is timeless. My son’s middle name is “Robinson” so that says a lot. I gained so much from understanding how much Jackie Robinson did after his career. He wrote vigorous letters for causes that made our country face up to its tenets and live by them. I took those efforts to heart when I ultimately faced the inevitable transition to my post-career life.
Did Jackie Robinson play a role in you pursuing baseball professionally?
I have an older brother [Ken], seven years my senior, who loves the game. He inspired me to love baseball, but the keyword in your question is “pursuing,” and in a pursuit, you have to be relentless, and persevere. I had many moments when I thought about Jackie Robinson’s struggle and sacrifice, to bring into perspective, that what I was dealing with at the time was something I could overcome.
This ranged from the challenge of climbing the minor league ranks to dealing with naysayers on the path to the big leagues. I knew I faced unique challenges in my path that led me to be the first African-American Ivy League graduate [University of Pennsylvania] to make it to the big leagues.
In some ways, I thought I had to carve out a path that had never been carved, but I often thought of Jackie Robinson’s journey, and saw how not only inspiring it was, but how universal it was. He is the model of true equity and true heroism.
Editor’s Note: In 2012, Glanville wrote this article about Robinson’s impact for ESPN.com.