New York Post columnist Jimmy Cannon once called Jackie Robinson “the loneliest man I’ve ever seen.” The first African American to play in Major League Baseball was not only a great athlete, but a breaker of barriers.
Among many similarly lonely children inspired by Jackie Robinson was Great Necker Melvyn Feuerman, who, as a child, watched Robinson play second base for the Dodgers in person at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and on the TV in his family living room.
“Robinson was a very, very exciting ball player,” he reminisced, praising the athlete’s hitting, fielding and base running.
But, what meant even more to Feuerman than Robinson’s athletic ability was his allyship with the Jewish community. The grandson of slaves spoke out against anti-Semitism and worked with the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish community to combat it.
“I understood that Robinson’s struggle was not only about racism against black people, but also about social justice, human dignity and equal opportunity for all,” explained Feuerman, who attended a yeshiva shortly after the Holocaust. “I felt safer knowing there were people like Jackie Robinson in America.”
To this day, almost 50 years after Robinson’s untimely death, Feuerman still remembers and values the impression the baseball player left on him and will be honoring him in the second episode of his public access cable TV show, The Mel Show.
Two-and-a-half years ago, the retired computer programmer began making informational YouTube videos using his iPhone. Recently, his daughter Debby, a producer at a public access cable channel, asked her dad for ideas. He pitched The Mel Show.
“Debby had no idea what I was going to talk about on Episode 1 of The Mel Show,” admitted Feuerman. “And neither did I, until a few hours before showtime.”
He doesn’t mind that the show doesn’t get a lot of views. He considers it a success because, “I get a good laugh watching my own work.”
Episode 2, which will focus on Jackie Robinson, will be much more thought out. Over the years, Feuerman has done a lot of research about Robinson’s life before, during and after he played for the Dodgers, including his military career. Feuerman will also interview a special guest, Martin Edelman, who was Robinson’s attorney and his friend. Edelman is a founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which gives scholarships to university students.
After the new episode airs on TV, Feuerman will post it to his YouTube channel, along with footage of Robinson playing football at UCLA and a radio conversation between Robinson and Branch Rickey, the executive who signed him. Stay tuned for more of The Mel Show.