I call this picture FULL CIRCLE. It is a symbol of how God speaks to me. “With This Ring,” the Lifetime movie based on my co-authored book, “The Vow,” trended on Twitter during Saturday’s world premiere. At the same time, Tweets about Ernie Banks, the legendary Negro League Baseball star, reached fever pitch, landing him, too, on the “top trending” list.
What’s significant about this? My very first gig as a reporter (I worked in the Albany, N.Y., bureau for The Associate Press) was to drive three hours to Cooperstown, N.Y., to attend a press conference for a ceremony honoring living legends of the Negro Leagues. I was the only woman in the press corp that day, and one of only two Black reporters there. I had $12 to my name, and I spent nine of them on a baseball so that I could get Hank Aaron’s autograph for my daddy, who’s long admired “Hammerin’ Hank.” I was scared to ask for that autograph, but I did it for Daddy because, well, I would walk through fire for him if he asked me to. Mr. Aaron graciously obliged, then, making note that I was the only Black woman amongst the writers, told me he was proud of my accomplishments and said he and the other players would be honored if I attended a private screening of a documentary about their lives as champions. I was over the moon and, of course, accepted the offer.
It was me, Hank Aaron and about 12 Negro League players in that screening that day, tearing up at how far they’d come. I never felt more safe, more respected, more treasured in that space, with a league of gentlemen who made a point of telling me how proud they were of me. Who was amongst those men/players?
His autograph, small, neat, a little shaky, is on the Negro Leagues calendar they signed for my dad.
Mr. Banks, a Baseball Hall of Fame legend known as “Mr. Cub” for his tremendous contributions to the integration of the Chicago Cubs and his passion for and skill in the game (he hit 512 home runs!), passed away on Friday. He was famously known for his upbeat attitude, nice guy charm and his signature saying: “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let’s play two today!” NPR graciously noted that Mr. Banks was “baseball’s sunshine”—a man who made a point of reminding us all “to cherish life and the chance to have work that gives enjoyment to others.”
Thank you, God, for that reminder. On that day she met the legendary Ernie Banks, that young journalist, all wet behind the ears, anxious about writing her first big story for a worldwide media company, had absolutely no idea that 25 years, 22 books, two New York Times bestsellers later, she would one day write a novel that would be turned into an amazing movie, written, directed, acted in and produced by a team of amazing Black women dedicated to an accurate portrayal of us.
I hear you, God. I see your message. I say, simply, “THANK YOU.”
Fly with the angels, Mr. Banks. It’s a great day for baseball, indeed.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.