Sharon Robinson, the daughter of black baseball trailblazer
Jackie Robinson, has forged her own path in life as a midwife and
teacher at such prestigious academic institutions as Yale,
Columbia, Howard, and Georgetown Universities. She's even become a
"football mom" despite her initial aversion to the sport.
This year, however, it was time to come "home," to reconnect
with the national pastime in a way that delights her and she is
sure would please her father.
In July, with baseball continuing its yearlong celebration of
Jackie Robinson's barrier-breaking entrance into the big leagues,
Major League Baseball announced that she would fill a new position:
director of educational programming.
"It's a nice fit for baseball and for me," she says from her
modest office in MLB's Manhattan headquarters. "The position kind
of percolated out of the 50th anniversary activities."
She hadn't been thinking of going into baseball and was
contemplating working on a national level for a women's
organization. The anniversary, however, inspired her to approach
Len Coleman, the president of the National League and chairman of
the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
"We wanted to find some ways to capitalize and continue the
positive feelings we've gotten from the anniversary. We didn't want
it to be just a one-year celebration," she explains.
Ms. Robinson sees her new position as a natural outgrowth of
volunteer work she was doing visiting schools to talk about her
dad's pivotal role in baseball and social history.
"We're looking at creative ways to incorporate baseball into
learning," she says of her current activities. A main focus will be
a pilot program aimed at children in Grades 4, 5, and 6. The
program will draw on baseball themes to approach school topics such
as math, science, and history.
"In math, we might talk about how you can calculate the speed
of a pitch," Robinson says.
Roughly 200,000 students will receive materials during next
year's seven-city rollout from Los Angeles to New York City, and
Robinson doesn't want the educational outreach to begin and end
with her. She wants major-league players involved, visiting schools
as well as teaching on the field.
"I want to make sure we bring classrooms to the ballpark, so
that children can talk with the coaches and athletes and have some
concreteness to the learning," she explains. "I want them to go to
a practice so they can sit down and talk. Of course, we can arrange
a trip to a game as well."
Teaching values, Robinson emphasizes, is important to
baseball. To achieve this, she is working on a memoir that teaches
nine values associated with her father, such as determination,
courage, and teamwork. …