Baseball's Jackie Robinson inspires Berkshire boys

In 1957, Jackie Robinson (yes, the baseball hero) came to Berkshire Farm Center to speak with the boys about life’s challenges and to inspire them. Besides the expected signing autographs, especially on baseballs for the boys, Jackie met with Berkshire staff and Board members.

Speaking to the boys, he remarked about some of the similarities in their backgrounds. His father had left him and his mother when Jackie was very young. “As a boy, I encountered many of the same problems that you now face in life,” he told them. “I’m not going to preach but merely remind you to play the game according to the rules, exactly as you do in baseball. Make the most of your opportunities and you’ll do okay.”

Jackie, who made history as the first African American player in the major leagues, also gave the boys a little dose of reality regarding baseball. “Don’t go all out on baseball, trying to be a major leaguer,” he warned. “There are only 400 positions in the big leagues and there are thousands upon thousands of youngsters trying for those few positions.”

He told them the better path is through education. “Be certain of success in life by making the most of your education. That’s how it can be accomplished. And you should do it right here, for Berkshire is a wonderful school.” Jackie concluded with, “The best thing I have heard all day was your Director, Mr. Coldren (at right in the photo below), telling me that the most important part of any school is the feeling between the youngsters and the staff. At Berkshire the relationship is wonderful, as I have observed during my visit today. The relationship is wonderful, thus you have a wonderful school.”

Today, Jackie Robinson still inspires the boys at Berkshire Farm Center. Teachers at the Jr./Sr. High School often encourage their students to read and write about Jackie in their assignments. The exercise also has a way of providing a sense of optimism and confidence for many of the boys.

The gentleman with Jackie (at left in photo) is Mr. Ned Twombly, member of Berkshire’s Board of Directors at the time, and the grandfather of Mr. Eric Twombly, current Board member and major supporter of our CSE program, known as the Twombly Leadership Academy. It is named in honor of the Twombly family, which has served and supported Berkshire Farm Center for more than 100 years.

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