I have always felt that although someone may defeat me, and I strike out in a ball game, the pitcher on the particular day was the best player. But I know when I see him again, Im going to be ready for his curve ball. Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.
Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.
Baseball is a lot like the ivy-covered wall of Wrigley Field--it gives off a great appearance, but when you run into it, you discover the bricks underneath. At times, it seems that we're dealing with a group of men who aren't much different than others we've all run into over the years, except they wear neckties instead of robes and hoods.
I was being thrown to the wolves. Even though I did something great, nobody wanted to be a part of it. I was so isolated. I couldn't share it. For many years, even after Jackie Robinson, baseball was so segregated, really. You just didn't expect us to have a chance to do anything. Baseball was meant for the lily-white.
I had many, many, many death threats. I couldn't open letters for a long time, because they all had to be opened by either the FBI or somebody. I couldn't open letters. I had to be escorted. In fact, just recently I went to a funeral, Calvin Wardlaw, who was the detective -- the policeman -- with me for two years, passed away just recently. He and I got to be bosom buddies really, but that was the hardest part. I wasn't able to enjoy -- you know.
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In baseball, there is something electrifying about the big leagues. I had read so much about (Stan) Musial, (Ted) Williams and (Jackie) Robinson. I had put those guys on a pedestal. They were something special. I really thought they put their pants on different, rather than one leg at a time.
I used to love to come to the ballpark. Now I hate it. Every day becomes a little tougher because of all this. Writers, tape recorders, microphones, cameras, questions and more questions. Roger Maris lost his hair the season he hit sixty-one. I still have all my hair, but when it's over, I'm going home to Mobile and fish for a long time.
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I played sometimes about as dull as you can play it. I did things the right way, you know. I think I modeled my playing ability after one of the all time greats, Joe DiMaggio. You always found Joe, when he played, you know, he always threw to the right base. He ran, he caught the ball. He did all the right things. He was an idol of mine in the outfield. He played the game the way it was supposed to be played.
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Once the record was mine, I had to use it like a Louisville Slugger. I believed, and still do, that there was a reason why I was chosen to break the record. I feel it's my task to carry on where Jackie Robinson left off, and I only know of one way to go about it. It's the only way I've ever had of dealing with things like fastballs and bigotry -- keep swinging at them.