Monday, April 16, 2007

RACHEL ROBINSON, FOREVER YOUNG


I was originally going to title this, "Rachel Robinson, One of a Kind", but I can't get her youthful exuberance out of my head.

And this goes back to the first time I interviewed her on a radio show I was doing on Los Angeles' KMPC in 1981 or '82. Rachel Robinson struck me then as a person with a voice, personality and energy of someone in high school who had the tag, "Most likely to succeed" attached to her name. At that time, Rachel Robinson was 58 or 59. She's now 84 and if you watched and listened to her during those two innings or so she was on ESPN with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan yesterday, you saw and heard that same youthful dynamo I remember from 25 or 26 years ago. I mean, when you talk about "The power behind the throne", you are talking about Rachel Robinson.

At Dodger Stadium yesterday and last night, the 60th anniversary of the first African American who played major league baseball was celebrated. Jackie Robinson. Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson, a man who's always been referred to as "Jack" by the woman who loved him, still loves him and who knew him better than anyone.

And what a celebration it was! Every Dodger player wore number 42, Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitches, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson sang our National Anthem, Don Newcombe (who SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame) had a nice conversation with ESPN's Stuart Scott and Vin Scully was introduced to recall some moments in a way that was....Well, it was pure Vin, is what it was.

One couldn't help but notice how after Rachel Robinson had spoken on the field (BEFORE her conversation on ESPN with Miller and Morgan), that the tenor of the day/evening was set to a higher than high level. I mean, did you see/hear the Hank Aaron conversation with Miller and Morgan on ESPN? I didn't know that beneath that tough Aaron exterior lies a living, breathing personality that is major league charming and funny. If Rachel Robinson was responsible for that, let's get Willie Mays to the next event Rachel is a part of and see what happens to WILLIE's personality.

During the Rachel Robinson conversation on ESPN, she told Miller and Morgan about a Jackie Robinson movie idea that is being seriously kicked around. It would/will star Robert Redford as Branch Rickey. She doesn't know (or isn't saying) who the first choices are to play Jackie and or her (Rachel). Off the top of my head, I'd like to see Omar Epps in the Jackie role if Epps can look believable with a bat and a ball. I think Epps would be VERY believable at what the rest of the role would require. The role of Rachel Robinson would have to be played by an actress who has the ability to portray someone who is BEYOND "special" and the first person who comes to my mind is Will Smith's wife, Jada, but if she's considered to be too old or whatever, an unknown actress might be the way to go. If that's the case, the producers should call me because there's a young woman in an acting workshop I go to all the time who just might be PERFECT for the role of Rachel Robinson, because if you're going to step into Rachel Robinson's shoes, you had damn well better BE perfect.

Tomorrow:
Rick Dees, James Woods and The Sopranos.

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