A native of Anderson Ind., Carl Erskine enjoyed a successful Major League Baseball career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1948 and 1959. He pitched in five World Series, winning one in 1955 against the New York Yankees. He pitched two no-hit, no-run games, and led the National League in 1953 with 20 wins and six losses. He played baseball during an era of transformation—the introduction of night games, jet travel, television, and racial desegregation.
As a teammate and friend of Jackie Robinson, he witnessed how the silent perseverance of one man changed society. These lessons learned became part of his legacy when his son Jimmy was born with Down syndrome in 1960.
According to Carl, “Jackie and Jimmy, because of tradition, superstition, ignorance, fear and arrogance felt the bitterness of rejection. Society considered them second class citizens or worse. The whole Robinson experience which I had lived through as a player, now seemed to arise in our lives. Jimmy was facing many of the same barriers.” [Read more in Carl's book "The Parallel", and order your copy today.]
“Some of those who uttered these terrible words were people I personally knew quite well. I felt a good dose of the pain and rejection Jackie told me he used to feel. I’d never known how fearful people could be about someone who was different. I used to ask myself, ‘Why are all these harsh things being said about my son?’ Jimmy didn’t do anything to deserve this.”
Special Olympics helped to change Jimmy’s world for the better when he and his dad traveled to Indiana State University in 1970 as they hosted their first Summer Games. Decades later, Jimmy still competes in Special Olympics, is a veteran employee of Applebee’s, and has become a respected and accepted member of the Anderson community.
With the formation of “The Carl and Betty Erskine Society,” the Erskines have made a commitment to those current and future athletes and families who will have Special Olympics on their team as they face many of the same challenges.
For more information about the “The Carl and Betty Erskine Society” or to plan your gift, please contact Michael Furnish at Special Olympics Indiana at 800-742-0612 ext. 235.