The Jackie Robinson Story
I have always been a Dodger fan from the time they were in Brooklyn and followed them, reluctantly, to the West Coast.
The year was 1962 and I was 11 years old. My father, who was President of a Fish and Game club, had an idea that they create an annual fishing derby. However this one had a twist. My dad wanted to bring children in from the inner city to spend a day on the fishing streams for the day while enjoying hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream. They would be fishing next to and across from the local White children. The Fish and Game club agreed to stock the streams with trout so the children would experience catching a fish.
The Club was skeptical about this event being a success; keep in mind that this was 1962 and bringing in African-American children from the inner cities to fish next to middle class and wealthy White children…well it was not something that occurred back then. My dad knew this.
So he needed to solicit help. My older brother, also a Dodger fan, suggested to dad that he solicit the help of a local resident, Dodger legend and the man who broke the color barrier in Baseball, Jackie Robinson. Dad called and spoke to Rachel Robinson who thought the idea a good one and thought Jackie would support it. She arranged for my dad and brother to visit their house the following week to discuss the idea.
Well, they did agree quickly and the Fish and Game Club voted to sponsor the event. My dad took us out trout fishing at an early age so I agreed to walk up and down the stream helping the inner city children to, for example, bait their hooks.
I was finishing baiting the hook and showing the young man how to cast the line into the stream. As I handed the rod back to him there was a tap on my shoulder. Dad said, “Roger, I want you meet to someone.” I said dad, wait! I’m busy here. Another tap and then another so I turned around very annoyed only to see this man with pure white hair wearing a pink suit. Dad said “Roger, I want you to meet Mr. Jackie Robinson! (As a youngster dad demanded that we call our elder men ‘Mr.”) A hearty handshake followed by a huge grin and the words “Great to meet you Roger” came from this 5’8” giant of a man. He said “call me Jackie”. We talked Dodger baseball and of course I asked for his autograph.
In the years that followed it became obvious that with all the hate mail, threatening phone calls and personal threats we received for bringing children of all races together, it was well worth. Until his death Jackie always supported the event and walked the miles of streams speaking to and encouraging all these children.
As I grew into an adult I realized that I did not meet a Dodger baseball player, or an executive at Maxwell House coffee. I met a man whose courage, patience, and personal character and integrity reached far beyond his feats on the field. I met in a word …”History” Jackie Roosevelt Robinson, # 42.
Resume of Dr. Roger J. Geronimo
- Nominated by President Reagan – Undersecretary Treasury -1985. Economic Consultant 1980 - 1988
- Doctoral Advisor and Accreditation Consultant – Numerous Universities.
- Operatic tenor, vocal coach and actor with professional experience and recordings.