I'm a forgiver. I might not forget, but I forgive. My mother, father and older brother always told me: 'Don't hold grudges. If you do that, you don't lower yourself down to your adversary. Just treat people the way you want to be treated.' I honestly think that's why I was able to survive and have some success.
My mother was a Bible student, and when I was a youngster, both my mother and father would say, 'If people would only live by the Golden Rule, there wouldn't be the problems that there are.' In other words, 'treat people the way you want to be treated.' If somebody mistreats you, two wrongs won't make a right.
I was all-state in four sports in New Jersey, but sometimes I couldn't get served at a restaurant two blocks from my high school. There were no job opportunities then... the only thing a black youth could aspire to be was a bellboy or a pullman or an elevator operator, or, maybe, a teacher. There was a time when all we had was black baseball.
Leo Durocher was our manager and he brought Willie up to me and said, 'This is Willie Mays and he's your new roommate.' You could see right away that this young man was a natural. He had those real big hands, great power and speed and would catch everything hit in his direction. He's the best center fielder that ever lived, no question.
Oscar Charleston was the Willie Mays of his day. Nobody ever played center field better than Willie Mays. Suppose they had never given Willie a chance, and we said that, would anybody believe there was a kid in Alabama who was that good? Or there was a black guy in Atlanta who might break Babe Ruth's home run record? No.