When Jackie Robinson was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in 1945 he became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball.
But “Number 42” became the target of considerable racist hatred and death threats. Ricky had warned Robinson that things would be tough and he should learn to turn the other cheek. Prior to one game, however, Jackie received a telephone call that brought him to his tipping point. He was so devastated he could not concentrate on the game and struck out with the bases loaded.
During another inning he made a fielding error. The crowds obscenities escalated.
Pee Wee Reese, a shortstop from Kentucky and Jackie’s teammate, called a timeout. Reese put his arm around Robinson and is reported to have said: “Jackie, let me tell you something. I believe in you. You’re the greatest ball player I have ever seen. You can do it. I know that. And I know something else one of these days you are going into the Hall of Fame. So, hold your head up high and play ball like only you can do it.” Robinson was uplifted by the sentiments and went on to deliver the game-winning hit for his team.
Many years later when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Robinson recalled that day on the field with Pee Wee as a turning point, a moment when Pee Wee gave him hope when all hope was gone.
Pee Wee Reese, a great natural coach, intuitively know that a few well-timed words of encouragement could change the course of an event or a life – even the course of history. Positive Attitude Will Lead To Positive Change