Monasteries of the Heart

Colorblind

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Check this photo out. Thanks to friends I had a chance to attend a Cleveland Indians baseball game recently. Prior to game my friend and I walked the Indians Hall of Fame section in the ballpark. So I got a chance to take my picture with my childhood hero Larry Doby. Jackie Robinson was the first Black to play in Major League baseball, picked up by the National League Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Larry Doby was the second, selected four months later by the American League Cleveland Indians. The brief stroll through memory lane made me wonder why at the age of eight I had even gravitated toward Doby. No one in my family, though my brothers and father were baseball fans, even liked the Indians, let alone chose a controversial figure to idolize. Why would I, at such and early age, go for the underdog, a trait that marks my entire life. And did I even understand the controversy or did I just admire the ballplayer and not see any color.
I tend to think I was colorblind because I remember this scene, too. I was about nine-years-old and was playing catch against my front steps when a boy about my age walked by and asked if I wanted to play catch with him. He had his baseball glove and I had mine. He told me his favorite player was Jackie Robinson and I told him mine was Larry Doby. We were having such a good time that I invited him into my house to play ping-pong in the basement recreation room. A few minutes later my mother did what most mothers would have done in 1950—she called me upstairs and told me my new friend would have to leave. He shouldn’t be in the house because all the neighbors would be talking. The little boy, of course, was black. That memory is burned in me. Until that event, I did not see color.