70…42…1947…25,623…A Legacy Forever


By Frank Ruelas
Facility Compliance Professional, St. Joseph’s Hospital
and Medical Center/Dignity Health

I am the first to admit that sometimes the microcosm of sports is overused to make political or social statements.  Often people in and out of sports use the terms “hero” or “brave” to describe various actions by athletes in professional sports who are trying to make a point, whatever that may be.  To those folks, I simply nod my head in recognition in their choice of self-expression and their use of sports as their vehicle to promote their message.  At the same time, I think it is important to remember in an era (and whether it is right or wrong I am not going to say) where everyone gets a trophy for simply being on a team, to remember that the words hero and brave do have a place in sports and that sports can be a vehicle where our American identity can be changed for the positive forever.

Arguably, one such event that reminds us of the enormity of how sports can be a prime mover of our philosophical and ethical development in our psyche that pushes compliance professionals to work in promoting equality and consistency in our respective compliance programs takes place this Saturday.

On April 15, 2017, Dodger Stadium will be the epicenter throughout the sports world if not the country in honoring the 70 years since a particular Brooklyn Dodger who wore number 42, took the field in 1947.  People may not know who the Dodgers played that day (Boston Braves) or what was the final score (Dodgers 5, Braves 3) but all of us are impacted on some level by what happened that day as Jackie Robinson broke through the color barrier of Major League Baseball.

If you happen to watch any Major League Baseball game tomorrow, you will see the number 42 on the uniform of every player, coach, and umpire.  When you see line ups displayed in the outfield, all the players will be listed as number 42.  It will be the only day you will see the number 42 in a Major League Baseball game as the number is forever retired by the league in honor to commemorate Jackie Robinson.

Sports is often seen as a means where we can teach our children some of the principles that will translate into lifelong lessons.  Sports teaches among other things teamwork, accountability, the value of hard work,  and that under the rules, let’s take baseball for example, that if you swing and miss and it is strike three (and the catcher does not drop the ball) you are out, no matter who you are.  So on some level, I will add that sports also tries to teach us that rules equally to all of us.

Now truth be told, I am sure most if not all compliance professionals know situations where people are not “out on strike three” and that how they are treated is indeed a function of who they are or who they know.  However, just as Jackie Robinson once said, “Discover the truth of today, and perhaps find the greatness of tomorrow”, we should remain committed to pursuing the idea that we are charged every day with an immense responsibility.  We may sometimes be the only voice that reminds people what actions should be taken in accordance with our compliance programs and we should not be discouraged when despite our best efforts, decisions are made contrary to our recommendations, particularly when such decisions are impacted by someone’s standing in an organization or how much money that person contributes to the bottom line.

Jackie Robinson didn’t quit in the face of all that he went through when he broke the color barrier.  Whatever challenges we face at work on any given day, maybe we should take a page out of the book of lessons that sports teaches us and remember that we too can decide not to quit as we owe it to our team to do our best today as we never know how our actions may translate to the greatness of tomorrow.

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  1. Well said, Frank. We should all remember that enduring truths endure – even if we don’t always recognize them at the time.

  2. In a world that seems to be focused way to much to all of the negative, I would like to thank Frank Ruelas for this very uplifting and inspiring piece. Albeit, I am not an avid sports fan, however Jackie Robinson is a true Legacy in my book!

  3. Sports are a great parallel to life’s lessons and we never do know the impact our actions will have in the future. Just as an athlete strives to perform at their optimal level each outing, we should always strive to be at the top of our game in life–whether that be at work or with family and friends–always striving to make the best decisions based on the information and facts that we have and know to be accurate.

  4. Thank you for your article commemorating the great “42” who taught us grace under pressure and dignity and professionalism despite persecution and injustice!


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