All NACDA Members
The Magic of Teamwork
(Wednesday, June 17, 8:15 - 9:00 a.m.)
Dave Hart, Jr.:
Good morning. I'm here today to introduce the featured speaker, Mr. Pat Williams. I think it's extremely fitting that we listed this part of the program in the Orlando Room. It's hard when you look at the career of Pat Williams to try and condense an introduction that wouldn't be longer than Pat's presentation. I've attempted to do that. This is a guy who has nine column inches in Who's Who. Attempting to get that down to a workable introduction is no easy task.
Pat is well known throughout the country. He got his undergraduate degree at Wake Forest, his master's at Indiana. He's a member of the Wake Forest Hall of Fame. He spent seven years in the Philadelphia Phillies Organization. Since 1968, he's been affiliated with the NBA, currently, of course, the Orlando Magic, which he co-founded in 1987. In 1996, Pat was named one of the 50 most influential people in NBA history.
Pat and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four different nations. He's the author of 15 books. He's a Civil War buff, a weight lifter, which is apparent. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, CNN and the "Maury Povich Show." It's my distinct privilege to introduce one of America's most talented and entertaining speakers and the man who helped me script this introduction, Mr. Pat Williams.
And Dave, it's appropriate being introduced by a Florida State guy. Boy, the Gators and the Seminoles living in this state, they claw and chew and tear each other apart. I ran into a Gator the other day who said, "Do you know why Florida State University graduates hang their diplomas from the rear view mirror?" I didn't know the answer. He said, "So, they can park in handicap places." Back and forth they go in this state, just clawing each other. Dave just said to me, "The University of Florida, one of the goodest schools in America." It never ends. Morning, noon, night, you take them out of Tallahassee and Gainesville and on and on they go.
I'm delighted to be here. I want to let you know that what I'm covering today, I've just finished writing a book about and done some tapes. They are on the back table here and I would be glad to meet with you afterwards. I'm excited about the subject of teamwork. When you get right down to it, we're all in the team building business. There are many different kinds of teams that we are all are part of in our lives. I've run into some interesting teams, of late. For example, I was at the Philadelphia Zoo last summer and I saw an interesting exhibition called the "Teamwork Exhibition." Inside of this cage was a lion and a lamb. I've never seen anything like it. I asked the zookeeper how it worked. He said, "Not very complicated. Every morning we put a new lamb in there." Now that's one kind of a team.
I'm running every day in Winter Park. For years, I've been running past a veterinarian shop. Just recently, they've added another part of their company, a taxidermist shop. Over the awning between the two stores it says, "Either way, you get your team back. Either way, you get your pet back." There are different kinds of teams in other areas. I want to talk about what it takes to put teams together because all of us are in that business, whether we're in the sports business at the pro level, the university level, the high school level, with families, with businesses, it really doesn't matter.
As I began to work on this book of few years ago, I sent out all of my materials to different people across the country to try and get reaction and feedback from them. It was very interesting as they provided the information. The most powerful thing that influenced me the most was Phil Jackson, the coach of the Bulls, who every year, before the NBA playoffs, stands up in front of his team. He shares with them the words of Rudyard Kipling in the second Jungle Book. "Now, this is the law of the jungle. It's old and it's true as the sky. The wolf that shall keep it will prosper, but the wolf that shall break it, must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, so the law runneth forward and back. For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack." That was really the motivation I needed to put the material together. I discovered as I picked the brains of every great team builder that I know, there are right characteristics of successful teams. I want to share them with you and I hope they'll have meaning in your lives, not only as you put your teams together on the courts and on the fields, but also, the teams that you put together in your whole administration and across your university.
The first characteristic I discovered of great teams is that you've got to have outstanding talent. Not the most profound statement in the world, but a true one. One of the people I sent my outline to was Dr. Jack Ramsey, the long-time coach at St. Joseph's, a Hall of Famer and in the pros. Jack wrote me back and said, "I love your material. However, you forgot your most important element, you've got to have the talent." I re-did my whole outline to make that the first characteristic of great teams.
Sparky Anderson, when he was managing in the Major Leagues, used to say, "I'll take talent over experience. By the time they get the experience, the talent is gone." May I just say this and I can't reinforce this enough, as you're putting teams together in your whole administration, you can never do enough research on who you bring on your team. Who you bring on, ultimately, determines what happens to your team. The best advice I can give is, you cannot do enough
interviewing, you cannot do enough background checking, you cannot do enough psychological testing. You just can't do it. Once you bring people on the team, you've got them and the toughest thing in the world is to get them off the team. It's disruptive, it slows the process down and you've got to start all over again. That's the best advice I can give you.
By the way, there's one other element as you bring talent on that I have discovered is paramount after almost 40 years in professional sports. The talent needs to be good whether it's an administrative assistant or a quarterback. But, you know what, that person better be coachable or it's not going to work no matter how talented they are. I've been part of 30 NBA drafts and after evaluating the talent and getting ready to pick the player on the first round, every single coach for the last 30 years has asked one key question, "Can I coach this kid? Is he going to listen to me? Will he respond to me? Can I get through to him?" So, talent, the right kind of talent, is the first ingredient of any successful team.
The second characteristic of great teams I have discovered is that you've got to have outstanding leadership. I have never seen a great team that didn't have great leadership. I was running in Kansas City a couple of years ago, and as I went out into the streets, I was running down Main Street, I got to the corner of 40th and Main. I ran into a monument. I'm a sucker for monuments. My kids go nuts because I have to stop and read every one of them. I noticed that this monument which was constructed in the middle of the road was for Major Murray Davis. He was killed in France during World War I in 1918. On the monument were these words, "A kindly, just and beloved officer, wise in counsel, resolute in action, courageous unto death, seriously wounded, he refused to relinquish his command until mortally wounded, he fell, leading his comrades to victory." His last words were "Take care of my men." I thought to myself, what an incredible leader he must have been.
That triggered me to dig deeply into what are the ingredients of great leaders. What are some key characteristics they all have? Here's what I discovered. Great leaders have vision. They have a true sense of mission and purpose. They see things out in the future before most of us can really grasp it. It's more than just a set of goals. Theodore Hesburg, the former president of Notre Dame, put it this way, "Vision is the essence of leadership. Knowing where you want to go, requires three things. Having a clear vision, articulating it well and getting your team enthusiastic about sharing it." Above all, any leader must be consistent. As the Bible says, no one follows an uncertain trumpet.
The second characteristic of great leaders is that they have communication skills. The most important thing we communicate as leaders is optimism. The ability to communicate to our people, optimism, hope, a sense of the future. When Tommy LaSorda resigned as the Dodgers manager two years ago, I had a nice visit with him. I asked him to reflect on his managerial career and what he thought was the number one thing that helped him have the success that he had. Tommy said, "Everyday, no matter what was going on in my life, no matter how I felt, whether the Dodgers had lost nine in a row or won nine in a row, I walked into that clubhouse. My players had to see an upbeat, optimistic, enthusiastic Tommy LaSorda. If they had seen my chin down to my belt buckle, it would have spread across my clubhouse like wild fire and I couldn't let my players see that. The most important thing I did was communicate optimism to my people every single day." Great leaders have the ability to communicate.
I've discovered a third characteristic of great leaders. That is, they have people skills. May I remind all of us today, we're really not in the athletics business either at the collegiate level or at the pro level. We're in the people business. Leaders have the ability to deal and get along with people. John D. Rockefeller said, "I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun." Another great businessman of a century ago, J. Paul Getty, said, "It doesn't make much difference how much knowledge and experience an executive possesses, if he's unable to achieve results through people, he is worthless as an executive."
In that chat with Tommy LaSorda, he told me something else that was very interesting. He said, "When I was 15 years old, growing up in Morristown, Pennsylvania, one day, my mother brought a bag of groceries home and put it on the kitchen counter. I noticed, specifically, a can of Carnation milk. For some reason, I read the label on the milk can. They had a slogan for Carnation milk back in those days, 'Contented cows give better milk.' I've remembered that my entire career. I adopted that in my managerial career. I firmly believe that every time I manage a group of kids, whether it was in Idaho or Los Angeles, I always believed that contented ball players, give better performances." People skills are paramount.
There's a fourth characteristic of great leaders and that is, they are people of character. I know that we are in a great national debate about character in our leaders right now, but I can't help but think of the words of Congressman J.C. Watts, former Oklahoma quarterback, who I heard at a convention. He stood up and asked, "How many of you men here think that the character of your wife is important? Women, how many of you think the character of your husband is important? Don't tell me that the character of our leader is not important."
It's a long subject, one that we could talk about a great deal, but may I just say one thing about one characteristic about character in leaders? That is, to maintain absolute integrity. Tom Peters, the business guru once wrote, "There are no minor lapses in integrity." That's why I was so impressed, when at age 77, Dr. Billy Graham was asked what he wanted to be remembered for when his life on this earth is over. Dr. Graham answered, "I was faithful to what God wanted me to do. That I maintained integrity in every area of my life and that I lived what I preached."
There's one other characteristic of leaders I want to talk to you about and that is that they have boldness. At some point in every one of our careers and every one of our jobs, we have to reach out make tough, hard decisions. It takes boldness to do that. It was Boone Pickens who said, "I just do not like executives who take the philosophy of, reading, aim, aim, aim. At some point, you've got to fire."
As I tell that to you, I can't help but think of the fall of 1996, when I ran in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington, lined up with 20,000 other runners. As we were standing at the base of the statue of Iwo Jima, I looked to my left. I noticed a young woman with a tee shirt on. She was from Baltimore and running her first marathon. I really believed that our whole society, 200 years from now, will be remembered by it's T-shirt and its' bumper stickers. That's how we're going to be remembered by generations down the road. This young lady from Baltimore was wearing a T-shirt that said, "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" I was so moved by it and I knew that I had five hours of running ahead of me and did not have a pencil or paper. So, for five hours, I just kept saying it over and over so I wouldn't forget it because I liked it.
As we moved out for the first mile, unable to move very quickly, I noticed to my right a little white head bobbing up and down at my right elbow. I looked over and saw it was a little white haired lady just jogging along. I said, "Ma'am, can I ask you a very personal question? How old are you?" She said, "I'm 83." I asked her how old she was when she ran her first marathon. She said, "73." I asked her how many she ran and it was her tenth. I pictured this little lady at 73 informing her children and grandchildren what she was going to do. Wouldn't you love to be there when she does that? All I could think of was that T-shirt that said, "when was the last time that you did something for the first time."
I want to share with you the characteristic of all successful teams. They are committed. Great teams are committed. They are committed to a number of things. First of all, they are committed to each other. They are committed to the other members of the team. I love what John Wooden at UCLA when one of his players made a lay up. He said, "Ten hands made that possible." There's also a commitment to excellence and to quality. One of the books I wrote a couple of years ago and have here today is a book about Walt Disney's five secrets of success. He was a fascinating man with a fascinating life. When I got to Orlando, I got Disneyized, as most of us do. I became intrigued with these five secrets that allowed all of Walt Disney's dreams to become a reality. The third secret was, strive for lasting quality. Strive for lasting quality. That takes a commitment to do that. As you run your programs, may I doubly encourage you that you're being weighed and measured just like any other business and if we are not all committed to quality and excellence, the public knows it, your staff knows it, everybody knows it. It isn't going to work. It takes an absolute commitment.
Another commitment is to compete and to win. I don't need to remind you of that, do I? It takes a commitment to do that in every area of your life. Your coaches, athletes, supporters will pick up on that quickly. If they don't sense that you're serious about winning, it drains. I find that in our organization. A lot of organizations, a lot of teams aren't totally committed to winning. They're committed to hanging in there, doing their best, whatever. It takes a commitment to compete and to win. I don't have to remind any of us in this room, we are in the most competitive industry in the world. I mean, viciously, competitive.
The immediate reaction I have noticed over the years, particularly with my kids, there's an initial reaction to shy back from competition. It's a little bit scary, a little overwhelming, a little bit intimidating. I'm telling you that it's competition that pulls out the very best in us. It is competition that drags it out of us, even kicking and screaming, to perform at a higher level than we would otherwise. Joe Paterno, at Penn State, said, "I love my competition. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be as good as I am." When you're committed to compete, you're committed to winning. I know we're in an age when there's a great cry about an overemphasis on winning, but I never apologize for it. I have discovered as I approach my 31st year in the National Basketball Association, if you don't win, you're not around very long. Fortunately, we've had good players, good teams, we've been able to win enough games so that I can keep my job.
Ultimately, you've got to be committed to competing, you've got to be committed to winning. Penny Hardaway has had two knee surgeries over the last year. It looks like he's rehabbed and will come back to play at the same level. In each one of those surgeries over the last two years, as he's gone in to have the operation, the only thing on our minds is that the surgeon better be a victorious surgeon. He better not be interested in making a nice, cute little cut that will look good at the beach and not be committed to 100 percent success. If you've got a legal problem, I hope your lawyer wants to win. If you've got a problem with the IRS, I hope your CPA is a victorious accountant who likes victory. So, it takes a commitment to do that.
By the way, there's a fourth characteristic of great teams. They are passionate. I found that great teams are enthusiastic, have high energy levels and their passionate about what they do. They're excited about what they do. You find a bunch of deadbeat, laid back, lethargic people, I'll show you an organization that isn't going to go anywhere. That's why I've been so intrigued here of late in reading about Michael Jordan and what he has done and what a role model he is. He's not perfect, by any means, but boy, does he pass along some wonderful characteristics, aside from that awesome talent, that delivers a lesson to all of us. What I see is, this guy is passionate about what he does. B.J. Armstrong, the former Bulls guard was quoted in Time magazine this week when he said this about Michael Jordan. "It is his passion that sets him apart." Luc Longley, this past winter, talked about Michael Jordan. He said that Michael is always up. Whether it's a Wednesday night game in January in Sacramento or the sixth game in the finals against Utah before the largest television audience in the history of basketball, Michael Jordan is the same. What he did the other night, he does all winter long. He never takes the night off. He's always up. He has passion.
You know what I think brings out passion in other people? It's not very complicated. I really think they love what they do. If you love what you do, you're going to be passionate about it. If you don't love it, you can't fake it. You might just move on to something else. Over the last few weeks, I have been studying and researching what some interesting people have to say about their lives and their careers and here's what I've discovered. Tiger Woods, not long ago said, "I love playing golf more than ever." When he left the University of Nebraska, Tom Osborne said, "I just really love football." How about Ron Santo, one of my boyhood heroes, the great Cubs third baseman, said, "I love the game. I put everything into it. I was emotional. I didn't worry about the first and the 15th, when they gave out paychecks. I was the first in the clubhouse and the last to leave. I like to rub dirt on my hands, wrists and forearms on hot days to soak up the sweat. I love the Wrigley Field dirt." Don't you love that? Is that a little bit of passion, a little bit of fire in his soul?
The fifth requisite I discovered and wrote about in my book about great teams is they think team. Less me, more we. One of the people I sent my outline to a few years ago was Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Mike wrote me back and said, "It's a paradox. If players and people would just understand that if they sacrifice some individual stuff on the front end so that the group succeeds on the back end, the individuals will flourish more. It's a paradox and most people never get it. If you do, it makes all of the difference in the world."
That requires a number of ingredients. First of all, it requires unselfishness. You've got to be willing to give some stuff up. When Pete Caril was coaching at Princeton, one of my all time favorites, whenever he would go out and have his assistants scouting high school players, Pete would ask him one question about the kid when they came back. "Can he see?" In other words, will he give the ball up. Is he willing to, not just see, but to pass it and give it up. That's what happens when you have sacrificial guys who enjoy being a part of a team.
I mentioned Coach K a minute ago. He said, "West Point helped mold me. The friendships that were formed there were strong. You learned to depend on people. What I'm talking about is teamwork and I was around it 24 hours every day. Sometimes people hear the word military and they think rigid. Military to me means discipline, organized. Now the team can be attacking all of the time. It doesn't have to be marching straight, but you're all in it together."
I've enjoyed my years with Chuck Daley who has rejoined us now at the age 67. Chuck sits in his rocking chair and can't get it going, but he still keeps on going. When Chuck bends over now, he thinks about what else he could do down there. Chuck has some wonderful outlooks and philosophies of putting teams together. He believes that putting a team together is all about selling. He's selling his players everyday about doing it as a team. As coaches, he said that we are sales people. Not long ago, Chuck said, "Building a team boils down to a never-ending sales pitch. Unfortunately, you can't always get people to buy into what you're trying to do. Winning isn't as important as their own agenda, so you always have to contend with that. I've always said that every player wants 48 minutes, 48 shots and $48,000,000. Well, the last part has gone up a little bit, but I understand that going in."
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, put it this way, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up, but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. If the two lie down together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone. The one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
The sixth characteristic of great teams I've discovered is that they empower each other. Great teams have a lot of empowering going on. Let me point out that empowering is our 90s buzzword. There's a whole new dialect going on and I'm not really with it. My kids remind me all of the time that I'm a 40s guy. On my very good days with them, I'm a 50s guy, but forget the 90s. Now, as the 21st century is on us, I've got some huge problems. I'm computer illiterate. I have just figured out how to work my view master. Here we go into the 21st century and we've got this whole vocabulary change and I'm having a tough time with it. Empowering. How about paradigm shifts? Until Stephen Covey came around, nobody even knew what a paradigm shift was.
Back in my day, empowering meant to build up, to encourage, to uplift and to lead cheers for. Rich DeVoss, the co-founder of the Amway Company, the owner of our Magic basketball team, when asked about his role with the Amway Company, said, "I'm the head cheerleader." When you've got that going on in an organization, it means everything. When empowering is taking place, at all levels, not just at the top level, but down within the ranks, you've got something special going on. It doesn't happen all of the time. It's a rare commodity. When it does happen, it's absolute magic. Most of it triggers from a slippery piece of mucus membrane lodged behind two glistening rows of ivory located in the lower front center position of our faces. I'm talking about the human tongue. It's the toughest instrument in the world to control, isn't it? The Apostle James knew all about it. He wrote about it quite a bit. He talked about how we can steer a giant ship in the ocean with a little piece of metal, a rudder. He talked about taming and directing a giant steed with a little piece of metal in his mouth. He then said, "Who can tame the human tongue?" When we do and use it properly, that's when empowering really takes place in a powerful way.
May I encourage everyone to be good empowerers, but we've got to be careful. Andy Grove, who is Time magazine's Man of The Year last year said, "In the 1980s, I had an encounter and really bellowed at a manager. After I cooled down, I apologized, but I had gone too far. By then, it was too late. A loyal, experienced and valuable manager had been so hurt that no apology could get through to him." Chuck Daly was talking not very long ago about one of his mentors, Dick Bubas, a long-time coach at Duke in the 50s and 60s. He said Dick taught him to bite his tongue. "There are a lot of things I'd love to say at times, but it's better to be quiet. I want to tell my players a thing or two on the bench, but instead, I put my hands in my mouth, lower my head, or simply turn away and look at something else. This form of self-discipline is very hard to acquire, but it's necessary if you're going to win in the NBA." One of the great statements in the history of collegiate sports came from Mike Z at Duke, who upon Dean Smith's retirement said about Dean, "We've all probably done things we're not proud of, backing up one of our players, but I can't think of a time I've ever heard Dean blame or degrade one of his own players. In return, his kids are fiercely loyal to him. That kind of loyalty doesn't just happen. Things done on a day-to-day basis develop that kind of relationship."
Empowering, empowering. It can go both ways. Someone who demonstrated that this year in a remarkable way was Larry Bird. We were all marveling at his coaching job. Many people thought he was not going to make it, didn't think it was going to happen. Larry was the most unique coach to come along. To watch him on the sidelines and see how he handled things was marvelous. Somebody in January asked him about what he was doing and he said, "I've played for screaming coaches and I didn't like it, so I don't do it. Nobody's ever going to be in my doghouse because I don't have a doghouse. A player can't believe in himself if he thinks his coach doesn't believe in him. If you don't think a guy can play, it's better to get rid of him than to bury him on the bench and scream at him in front of everybody."
Our daughter, Stephanie, works for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who this year in Sports Illustrated were described as the worst-run professional teams in all of sports. A few weeks ago, Art Williams, who made his billions in insurance, a former high school football coach in Georgia, bought the club. It is in the process of being approved by the National Hockey League. He's trying to revive ice hockey in Tampa Bay. Stephanie went to the office on Monday and there was a handwritten note on a little card from Art Williams, from a man she has not met yet. "Dear Stephanie, I'm hearing great things about you. I believe we're going to build something special in Tampa and I also believe you will be one of the key reasons for this success. Stephanie, you are very special. Go, go, go. Art." You think Stephanie's a believer? You think she's going to run through a brick wall for this guy? You think she is sold on his philosophy? She was staggered by that.
May I encourage all of us to be an empowerer and it's not an easy job. It is so vital. It's most vital at home with our children. Dave's introduction was correct, we do have 19 children. The oldest is 26 and the youngest is 12. Fourteen have been adopted from four different nations. As I speak to you, I am the father of 16 teenagers at the same time. Five seniors, who graduated in May and I'm counting the days. We're going to have seven kids in college at one time. If any of you have free scholarships, unfortunately, my little kids are from Asia. They didn't grow wide enough or tall enough. I've got to remind myself every day that these kids need to be empowered. The Biblical term for it is blessing. They've got to get the blessing from their dad, their coaches, from people in their lives. Kids need to be blessed.
I was reminded of that a while ago when I was talking to Bill Glass, a long time NFL end with the Browns and the Lions, who for the last 30 years, has had a prison ministry across America. He's gotten into more prisons than anybody else, speaking and working with prisoners. Bill Glass was asked not long ago if there was one common thread with all of these prisoners and he said, "Yes, there is. Every man in prison has a father problem. Everyone I ever met had a problem with his father, either abandoned, neglected or abused or refused. They all have a father problem." With that in mind, Bill said, Kevin Costner was recently asked what it was he was looking forward to when he was a child? He said, "Only one thing. I remember as a little boy growing up, I wanted to please my father. Since I've become an adult, it hasn't changed anything." Here's a man who has won Academy awards and all he wants to do is please his father. I saw Kirk Douglas interviewed on national television and he said, "I never got the blessing of the rag man and I never got over it." You see, his father was a ragman. He never did anything other than sell rags on the streets of Philadelphia. He wrote a book called The Rag Man's Son, his autobiography. At the age of 75, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he said, "My father never really blessed me and I never got over it." Ladies and gentlemen, no one ever does.
There's a seventh characteristic of building great teams and it's simply build trust and respect. Great teams are built around respect for each other which leads to trust. Before our playoff series with the Bulls in 1996, Dr. James Heffernan, the Bulls team physician, was standing outside the locker room. He's been there through the whole Michael Jordan era. I asked him if he could capsulize one characteristic about Michael Jordan, what would it be. He said, "Aside from being the most competitive human being ever to walk the face of planet earth, what has impressed me is the fact that he respects everybody the same. It doesn't matter whether he's with the president or the ball boy, Michael treats them the same. He can be with the Pope or the equipment manager, he deals with them exactly the same. He respects everybody equally." When you do that, that leads to trust and you've got a magical situation.
The eighth characteristic of great teams is to build in model character. Great teams are made up of character people. Dallas Green who used to manage in the Major Leagues used to say, "I want character people." What are the ingredients of character players? First of all, they are people of faith. They believe in God. They're people of honesty and integrity. They are people with a strong work ethic. They're people of maturity. They're people who take responsibility. I am in charge of me, they say. They're people who start, persevere and finish. It's called stubbornness with a purpose. They are people of humility. They are people who use their influence wisely.
Bob Green in Time magazine, this week, was writing about Michael Jordan. He said, "Michael Jordan is always aware of who's watching him and his fans. That's why he always dresses with a coat and tie, a suit, as he comes down the elevator and heads to the team bus. There's going to be about a 15-second gap from the time he gets off the elevator until he gets to the bus. This hoard of fans waiting there to see him for 15 seconds will be impacted by what they see." His reason for this is he doesn't want his fans to be disappointed.
There's one other characteristic of character people with this that I'll close with. That characteristic is called courage. It's something we all need, something we all have to demonstrate in our lives. I want to share with you the greatest example of courage I'm aware of, certainly in my sports career. It was 51 years ago this spring that Jackie Robinson made his debut in Major League Baseball, breaking the color line, a very significant moment in the history of our nation and one of the most courageous. Roger Cahn, the author of the Boys of Summer, reminisced and wrote with Jackie what he went through in April of 1947. Had Jackie not had the courage to go through it, nothing would have happened as it has over the last 50 years.
The Philadelphia Phillies came into Ebbots Field for a three-game series. I want to share with you what Roger wrote about it. "Not long ago, I was having lunch with Andy Siminik, the long-time Phillies catcher, who was behind the plate for the Phillies for that series in 1947. Andy is 77 years old and lives in Melbourne, Florida. He looked at me and said, 'That's exactly the way it was.' On April 22, 1947, a clear, cold day, the temperature never rose above 45 degrees. The Phillies came onto the field to start a three-game series. Ben Chapman, born in Tennessee, raised in Alabama was the manager of the Phillies, a thick, broad character with a tumultuous history. As the Dodger-Phillies game began, Chapman's strong, carrying drawl rose from the visiting dugout. 'Hey you, there snowflake. Yah, you, do you hear me? When did they let you out of the jungle? Hey, we don't need no niggers here.' Usually in baseball, even crude assaults give rise in back and forth banter. None was forthcoming that chilly April day. The Dodgers, southern and northern Dodgers, Dixie Walker, Pee Wee Reese, Spider Jorgansen, were shocked. Like Robinson, they sat in silence."
Lee Hanley, Ben Chapman's third baseman, later made it a point to seek out Robinson. He said, "I'm sorry. I want you to know that stuff doesn't go for me." Hanley was the first opposing Major Leaguer to treat Robinson as a man. Robinson remembered Lee Hanley for the rest of his life, but he could no more respond to Hanley at that time than he could respond to Ben Chapman. He thought of the many times he'd been told to turn the other cheek, but Robinson asked himself, do I really have to live his sermon? Years later, Robinson recalled his reaction to Ben Chapman. "I don't remember everything they shouted, probably just as well. My wife, Rae, is into psychology and she says that something's are too upsetting and you make yourself forget." Although Robinson would not, or could not, recount all that he heard, he vividly remembered his emotions. "All my life, I've been a proud guy. I won't sit in the back of a bus. If you call me nigger or boy, I want to tear your throat out, I'm a proud guy. So, there I am in Brooklyn, which is supposed to be the promised land and I'm hearing the worse garbage I ever heard in my whole life, counting the streets, counting the Army, but I've sworn to Mr. Rickey I won't fight back. I'm supposed to ignore him and just play ball. I play ball and they don't stop, jungle bunny, snowflake. I start breathing hard. I'm doing my job and I'm a good ball player. Deep down, I'm thinking, people will see I'm a good ball player, they'll see I'm Black and they'll put that together. A Black guy is a good ball player. A Black guy can be a good guy, but that's not happening. What do the Phillies want from me? What did I ever do to them? What does Mr. Rickey want? I'm in great shape. I'm playing hard. I'm not sassing anybody. What does everybody want from me? All of a sudden, I thought, the hell with this. This isn't me. They're making me be some crazy, pacifist, Black freak. No, no, I'm going back to being myself. I'm going into the Phillie dugout and grab one of
those Whites, smash his teeth and walk away from baseball. I thought, this doesn't take as long in my head as it takes to tell you. I thought of Mr. Rickey and Ray and my baby son, standing on the ball field in Brooklyn. Standing still, I've come to a cross road. For a second, I felt this is it, I'm cracking up. But, wait, wait, wait. Am I going to give Ben Chapman that satisfaction?"
In the eighth inning that day, Jackie Robinson singled up the middle and then he stole second base. When the ball bounced into center field, Robinson got up, ran onto third. A Dodger outfielder by the name of Gene Hermanski singled to right and that was the run. There weren't anymore. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies that day, one to nothing on Robinson's run.
Ken Burns, the great film maker, was talking about baseball film that he put together and Ken said, "Ted Williams looks like John Wayne." When I asked him about Jackie Robinson, he looked at me and said, "That man had tons and tons of guts." May that be said about all of us.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
I don't think there's any question that one more time, Pat Williams has validated his reputation as one of America's brightest and most entertaining speakers and Pat, we're delighted that you have given us this time this morning. I'd like to present to you as NACDA's token of appreciation, this clock and we hope that sometime you'll join this group in the future.
Pat will be in the back to autograph his book. Again, thank you, Pat.