Pee Wee Reese (1918-1999) Remembering His Legacy

Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson

 When Jackie Robinson was signed by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn   Dodgers, he became the first African-American to play major league   baseball. Number 42 became the target of considerable racist hatred   and death threats. Branch Rickey had warned him that things would be   tough and that 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 couldn’t concentrate and struck   out with the bases loaded. In another inning he made a fielding error.   The crowd escalated their obscenities.

Pee Wee Reese
Pee Wee Reese

 Pee Wee Reese, the white shortstop from   Kentucky and Jackie’s   teammate, called a time-out. Pee Wee put his arm around Robinson and   said, “Jackie, let me tell you something. I believe in you. You are the   greatest ballplayer 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 those words and went on to deliver the game-winning hit for   his team.

 

Many years later when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Robinson   recalled that day on the field with Pee Wee. “He saved my life and my career that day. I had lost my confidence, and Pee Wee picked me up with his words of encouragement. He gave me hope when all hope was gone.”

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