Posts tagged menstepping up

A Major League trailblazer — Jackie Robinson’s story (part one)



This week, Major League Baseball’s first pitch was tossed for the 2013 season.  There’s an upcoming movie, “42”, about the man — Jackie Robinson.  And in the book, Stepping Up, we shared the story of Jackie Robinson.  The next few blog posts will be selections from that chapter, sharing the impact that he had on Major League Baseball, his personal courage and integrity to team with Branch Rickey to become the player that would break the racial barriers that existed in Major League Baseball and across the nation.

Jackie Robinson didn’t see much of a future for himself in professional baseball.

Stepping Up FamilyLife Jackie-Robinson

photo from Think Positive magazine, http://74.53.231.70/~thinktpm/

The year was 1945, and he was twenty-six. A UCLA graduate and World War II veteran, he was trying to make a living by playing for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. He hadn’t played much baseball; he was better known as a football star at UCLA. But when the Monarchs offered him a job, he decided to give it a try.

Jackie was infuriated by the indignities that black ballplayers faced. In some stadiums, they weren’t allowed to use the locker rooms because white owners didn’t like the idea of black men using the showers. He hated the segregated hotels and drinking fountains. In one instance, when the team bus stopped for gas and the station owner said the players couldn’t use his restroom, Robinson threatened to fill up the team’s bus at another station. The owner changed his mind.

And, of course, the worst indignity of all was the fact that Major League Baseball was segregated. For decades, some of the best baseball players in the nation —  legends like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson—were kept out of the big leagues. Robinson saw no hope for the situation changing, or for the opportunity to move up and play baseball in the whites-only major leagues. “I began to wonder why I should dedicate my life to a career where the boundaries for progress were set by racial discrimination,” he later wrote.

A legendary meeting

Robinson was contacted by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Word was that Rickey was forming a new Negro league and wanted to talk with Robinson about joining it.

Robinson’s meeting with Rickey on August 28, 1945, became a turning point in America’s history. Robinson learned that Rickey had no intention of starting another Negro league. Instead, he wanted to break the color barrier in professional baseball . . . and he wanted Jackie Robinson to lead the way by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Rickey could have chosen better players, but he was looking for someone with the right character. He had no illusions about the pressure that the first black ballplayer would face — the hatred he would encounter from white players, and the impossible expectations he would feel from the black community. He wanted someone who was angry about segregation but could keep that anger in check. Choose the wrong player, he felt, and he would push the cause back by years

“If you’re a good enough man, we can make this a start in the right direction,” Rickey told Robinson. “But let me tell you, it’s going to take an awful lot of courage.”

In the meeting, Rickey confronted Robinson with examples of the situations he would face. He acted the part of ballplayers using racial slurs and trying to start fights. “They’ll taunt and goad you,” he said. “They’ll try to provoke a race riot in the ballpark. This is the way to prove to the public that a Negro should not be allowed in the major league.”

“Mr. Rickey,” Robinson said, “are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” “No,” Rickey replied, “I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.” Robinson wondered if he was the right person for this. Did he have that kind of strength and courage? “Yet I knew that I must,” Robinson later wrote. “I had to do it for so many reasons. For black youth, for my mother, for Rae [his wife], for myself.”

Continued next post…

Excerpted with permission from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

Treasured memories or wasted time?



Stepping Up blog Dennis Rainey

The Encyclopedia Britannica gives a half page to the accomplishments of the son of President John Adams, Charles Francis Adams. Adams followed the political trail of his father and became a U.S. diplomat to Great Britain. The encyclopedia makes no mention of Charles’ family, but Charles’ diary does.

An entry one day read: “Went fishing with my son today — a day wasted.”

Another diary, that of his son Brook Adams, gives us a different perspective: “Went fishing with my father — the most wonderful day of my life.”

Interesting, isn’t it, how a little boy’s perspective could be so different from his dad’s.

But it’s true of me, too. I can remember tugging and half-pulling my dad out of his favorite chair while he was trying to read the evening newspaper. I wanted to play catch. He usually let me win the tug-of-war, sometimes reluctantly. Those were wonderful evenings.

There were fishing trips with Dad to Canada when I caught a trophy Northern Pike. And another outing to a local lake where he netted a small boy’s catfish — a fish so small that it went through the holes in the net. He always used to kid me about that fish — his laughter still echoes in my mind when I recall that skinny fish slipping through the net.

It’s interesting now as an adult how the mind can play tricks on me. Looking back, those days of vacation and moments of memories are among my most cherished possessions. Yet, now that I’m grown, it seems that playing catch and going fishing are not nearly productive enough. No measurable goal is apparently achieved. Until, of course, I get a few moments to reflect on the value God places on a little boy or a little girl.

Treasured memories

I was reminded recently that not all men today have those memories of time with dad etched on the slate of their hearts. Jeff Schulte, a former associate of mine here at FamilyLife, once wrote the following letter to his ministry partners, thanking them for their partnership in strengthening families. It speaks of memories of a different kind.

I can still picture my Dad bouncing me on his knee, coaching me in Little League, showing me how to shine my shoes, helping me reel in my first fish, and telling me stories about his early days as an undercover detective on the Dayton police force.

I can still hear him saying the words, “Son, I love you.” I can imagine him messing up my hair, wrestling with me on the living room floor, and sharing a hot dog with me at a Cincinnati Reds game.

I can still see him puffing up his chest when he talked about me to his friends. He was proud to be my Dad. He would do anything for me — I was his son — he was my Dad. I was a chip off the old block.

I can still see all this and much more, but I can’t see it in the reservoir of fond memories. Instead, I recall it from an imagination and yearning that wished then and wishes now that it were so. My Dad left home when I was 3. I never really knew him.

When I drive home from the office, I’ll often turn off the radio and in the quiet of the car I’ll think about a little blond-headed three year old somewhere who will grow up knowing his dad because you and I decided we wanted to make a difference.

I’m 26 years old. I still miss my Dad (even though that’s hard to admit). I even cry sometimes when I’m honest with myself about how I feel. Please pray for my Dad. I don’t believe he’s met Jesus.

The most piercing statement in Jeff’s letter are the words, “I never really knew him.” I couldn’t help reflecting on the number of children today who will replay a similar record in their minds. No, not just those from broken homes, but those whose homes have a father and a mother in name only.

Becoming a father

Some years ago at a Weekend to Remember getaway here in Little Rock I remember one man’s statement to me at the end of the conference. He grabbed my hand and blurted out, “I became a father this weekend!” When I asked him when his wife had given birth during the conference, he said, “Oh, no. She didn’t have a baby — we already have three children. You see, I had ‘fathered’ three children, but I wasn’t being a ‘father’ to them. And this weekend I decided I was going to become a real father.”

The little boy who went fishing with his dad, Brook Adams, lived most of his life as an agnostic and a skeptic, defying the roots of his Puritan ancestry. Near the end of his 79-year life he returned to his home church, overcame his shyness, and made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I wonder if God used the memory of the fishing trip with his dad, linked with the spiritual values his father taught him, to bring Brook Adams to faith in Christ.

So this month take a kid fishing and teach him one spiritual truth. Just one memory. Just one truth. It may be “the most wonderful day” of his life.

A tribute to Daddy Fish



I believe the battle for the family today begins with how men behave.  As men step up and man up, they will have an incredible impact on their wives and on their children.  And that impact will be felt for many years to come.  We need a movement of men stepping up.

A number of years ago on FamilyLife Today, we interviewed RV Brown, who heads up an outreach to youth.  RV was one of 17 children, and at the end of our interview I asked him to give a tribute to his father — to honor him for what he had done well.

RV-Brown-Sunday

I’ll never forget what he said to his dad, Willie Fish:

“Daddy Fish, I just want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, first of all, for loving my Mama, and then secondly, for loving me, and kissing me, and rubbing my little round head, and telling me to go to school, and everything was going to be okay.  And then, Dad, I want to thank you for taking me fishing — July the sixth, 1959, for the first time.  

“And Dad, I want to just tell you what an awesome leader you was.  With no education, Dad, you taught me.  You educated me how to love.  Dad, thank you!  I’m the kind of man I am today because of who you are.  Thank you for loving Mama.  Thank you for the leadership and authority in which you raised us.  Thank you for the discipline; and most of all, father, I want to thank you for that hug and that kiss, and that little rub on my little, round head, and you’d say, ‘You’re going to be okay, son.’  Dad, I love you.”

What a great illustration of a man who was courageous in stepping up to love and lead his family.

It doesn’t get much better than this.  This is the type of impact we long to have as men.  Men Stepping Up means a culture that will begin to change for the better.

Men Stepping Up

To listen to the FamilyLife Today program where RV Brown’s tribute is shared, click below:

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