Those who love the sport of baseball do not talk much about its ugly history of racism. That's why it is good to revisit the life and times of Jackie Robinson who courageously took upon himself the hatred of baseball players, managers, umpires, owners, and fans who wanted to keep baseball segregated.
In 1945, Branch Rickey, the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers decided that it was time to integrate the game. Thinking it was the right thing to do, he also wanted to bring African-Americans into the stadium to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play. After a national search, Rickey hired Jackie Robinson who had been playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League.
When this gifted player arrived to play first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 he broke baseball's long-standing color barrier. He lived up to his high billing by demonstrating his dramatic skill of stealing bases. Robinson was named National League MVP in 1949 leading the loop in hitting (.342) and steals (37), while driving in 124 runs. With Robinson as their spur, the Dodgers won six pennants in his ten seasons, along with the 1955 World Series title over the New York Yankees.
To Name This Day:
In 2008, The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled a new Hall of Fame plaque for Jackie Robinson. Jane Forbes Clark Board Chairman said:
"When he earned election to the Hall of Fame [on July 23] in 1962, Jackie Robinson totaled a career worthy of inclusion, based on performance alone. He told baseball writers that when considering his candidacy, they should only consider his playing ability — what his impact was on the playing field. At his induction in 1962, his plaque reflected his wishes — it only recounted his magnificent playing career.
"But as we all know, there's no person more central and more important to the history of baseball, for his pioneering ways, than Jackie Robinson. Today, his impact is not fully defined without mention of his extreme courage in crossing baseball's color line. We are proud of the changes he made."
Find pictures of some of today's baseball teams. How much diversity do you see? As you look at these faces of baseball, give thanks for Jackie Robinson's talent and courage.