The needs of the many …

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Brothers in arms?

… outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

A classic line from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, spoken by Mr. Spock as he’s dying after saving the Enterprise by fixing the nuclear reactor.

Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. Spock, died a few days ago. I’ve always been a casual Star Trek fan. I watched it with my family in reruns when I was a kid. It was always followed by another fabulous Nimoy show, In Search Of …

So Nimoy’s death kind of hit me harder than I ever might have expected. In addition to his acting career, he was an accomplished artist and author, and he always had a quiet, humble dignity about him, but when he spoke, people listened. He also guested on The Simpsons multiple times, which automatically doubled his already sparkling cool factor.

And then Minnie Minoso, Mr. White Sox, a trailblazing black Latino who broke down so many barriers in the Major Leagues, died this weekend. And it happened just a couple months after another groundbreaking black baseball player — Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks — died.

So we have a trio of deaths that affected me personally. I will dearly miss all of them. But I’ve been trying to find some connection between Minnie, Ernie and Leonard, and it definitely was a challenge.

But I think I’ve come up with one or two. It might seem like a stretch but I see a certain poignancy in it.

First, just like Ernie and Minnie, the original Star Trek series broke down racial barriers multiple times, becoming one of the first mainstream TV shows to, as they said, boldly go where no one had gone before and address such sensitive issue. Take the episode where William Shatner, a.k.a. Capt. Kirk, kissed Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura, whose very presence on the show was itself show-stopping in its courage.

Leonard also, on several occasions, stood up for the abilities, opportunities and rights of his minority co-stars, Nichols (who is African-American) and George Takei (who is Asian-American and gay). Reportedly, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry dubbed Nimoy “the conscience of Star Trek.”

Then there’s the quote to which I referred at the beginning of this post. I did so because I believe it directly relates to what Minoso and Banks achieved in the baseball world. Just like Spock made the ultimate sacrifice to save his ship and crewmates, Minnie and Ernie put their own well being on the line and endured a slew of trials and tribulations as ethnic trailblazers in organized baseball so the multitudinous generations that followed them could prosper and benefit from their personal sacrifices and courage.

Again, maybe a bit of a stretch. But I do see a line that can be drawn from the two baseball legends to the acting legend — who also, by the way, faced prejudice himself because of his Judaism.

The needs of the many do indeed outweigh the news of the few, or the one. Spock knew that, but I firmly believe that our two African-American hardball heroes, Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso, experienced it first-hand, too.

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