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Standing on second

By Phillip Hines 

Nov. 1, 2005, a statue was unveiled in front of a Brooklyn ballfield, KeySpan Park, where the Mets’ Class A Cyclones play.  

The statue was not of a general on a horse or a politician holding the constitution but of two long-ago baseball playersJackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, of the Brooklyn Dodgers.   

The statue shows Reese’s arm around Robinson’s shoulders.   

In 1947 Robinson was the first African American to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s “color barrier,” he faced jeering crowds, death threats, heckling and taunts in every stadium.   

One day, while playing in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. 

The shortstop, Reese, came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet.   

Robinson later said that arm around his shoulders saved his career.   

In the biography “Jackie Robinson” by Arnold Rampersad, Robinson himself recalled the incident this way: “Pee Wee kind of sensed the sort of helpless, dead feeling in me and came over and stood beside me for a while. He didn’t say a word, but he looked over at the chaps who were yelling at me and just stared. He was standing by me, I could tell you that.”   

In 1997 Reese told The New York Times, “Something in my gut reacted at the moment. Something about what? The unfairness of it? The injustice of it? I don’t know.” 

We’ve all been there, I suppose – standing in need of someone to face our problems with us. And I also believe we’ve all been there for the one who needed the encouraging arm around the shoulders.   

The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1-2, Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

There are those who need us now. People all around us are hurting in different ways. At this time, there are some who are struggling financially. There might be an elderly couple who needs someone to pick up groceries for them. Others simply need a phone call and someone to talk to.   

Those caught in sins and weaknesses need us, and we all need each another.   

Will you reach out to someone this week? There is surely someone standing on second base, needing a friend.