Pat Williams is most well-known for being the SR Vice President of the Orlando Magic. But he is also an author of more than 70 books, a motivational speaker and a radio host in the Orlando, Fl. area. He joined Chad on Flight 750 Wednesday to talk about his book How to Be Like Jackie Robinson.Williams insists that one of the biggest supporters of Robinson breaking the color barrier was fellow Hall of Famer Willie Mays.
“Willie was a high school football player and when this story broke in the fall of 1945 that Jackie Robinson had been signed by the Dodger organization, Willie told me he said “My heart began to sing. Because I knew my turn was coming." And I think every black ball player felt the same way.”
Williams also maintains that Robinson knew that what he was about to do was going to change the game of baseball and the country forever.
"I think Jackie did see that it was bigger than baseball and it was going to impact our country forever and he could not mess it up. – One incident would have destroyed it. It would have set it all back for ten years or more. We never would have heard of Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson. And Jackie realized that he just had to bite his lip and bite his tongue…And the good news is after the third year in 1949, Mr. Riley went to him and said “Jackie, no more restrictions. Go be who you are.”
And finally, Williams switched gears and talked about one of the men we had on the show this week who he brought into the league, Penny Hardaway.
"He was extraordinary. But sadly he ended up hurting both knees. By the time he was 24-25, he’d had surgery on both knees…Never really lived to his full potential. He was a future Hall of Famer. So it’s a sad story that we never really saw a full career from Penny. But for a number of years there, teamed up with Shaq, boy that was quite a duo."
Take a listen to the interview and be sure and check out Williams’ book, How to Be Like Jackie Robinson.