Jackie Robinson changed the game of baseball. His impact on the game will forever be remembered. Robinson’s path to the Major League Baseball (MLB) was astounding, becoming the first African American to play in the MLB. Robinson’s legendary career is one of the best amongst all African American baseball players. He has a special day dedicated towards him, on April 15th each season; every team in the MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day (Baseball HOF).
Mallie and Jerry Robinson gave life to Jackie Robinson on January 31, 1919. He was born in Cairo, Georgia, and was raised in Pasadena, California. Jackie was a tremendous athlete; he played multiple sports such as soccer, football, tennis, basketball, track, baseball, and table tennis (Carney-Smith). Robinson won multiple letters in football, basketball, baseball, and track at Muir Technical High School and Pasadena Junior College (Carney-Smith).
Since Robinson was good at many sports, he was accepted as a friend by his white teammates. In athletics he had more freedom to relate to people on equal terms, with less emphasis on race and more on body development, coordination, and performance level (Carney-Smith). Robinson… declined many attractive offers from universities around the country nationwide, and chose the University of California, Los Angeles (Carney-Smith). He received many accolades in sports such as: highest scorer in basketball competition in the Pacific Coast Conference, national champion long jumper, school’s first athlete to letter in four sports, an all-american football halfback, and varsity baseball shortstop (Carney-Smith).
In 1942, Jackie was drafted into the military. Stationed in Texas, he was a frequent participant in camp ball games, and one day he was inadvertently scouted by Kansas City pitcher, Hilton Smith (Negro Leagues). The Kansas City Monarchs was a team the was part of the segregated Negro Leagues. This league provided the only opportunities for several generations of extremely talented and dedicated minority ballplayers (Baseball & Af Am). The Monarchs signed Robinson following his discharge from the military. He joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945 for a reported four hundred dollars a month (go.galegroup). Robinson hit .387 or .345, depending on the source, in his only season with the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro Leagues).
General manager, Branch Rickey, of the Brooklyn Dodgers wanted Robinson not only for his talent and style of play, but also because of his demeanor (Baseball HOF). Rickey knew he was sending Robinson down a tough road and thought Robinson was the man to handle it without fighting it back (Baseball HOF). Robinson was interrogated by Rickey for multiple hours to test his actions and see if he will get out of hand. According to Frommer, Robinson said I think I am the right man to pick for this test. There is no possible chance that I will flunk it or quit before the end for any other reason than that I am not a good enough ballplayer (Go.galegroup).
Robinson went through a rough path at the beginning of his unbelievable journey. At 26 years old, Robinson earned $100 a month as a professional (negro leagues). He was forced to sit in the back of buses, and games were often canceled due to his presence. Pitchers often threw the ball directly at Robinson, and base runners tried to spike him. He received mail of death threats, and even warnings that his son would be kidnapped (Go.galegroup). Robinson endured teammates and crowds who opposed his presence, and threats to himself and his family, with honor and grace (Baseball HOF). Some players on the team circulated a petition saying that they would not play with Robinson, if he was brought up to play with the Dodgers (Go.galegroup). On the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers top farm team, Robinson led in certain categories. In 1946, he led the international league with a .349 average and 40 stolen bases (Baseball HOF). Robinson lead the Royals to the championship in the little world series.
On April 15, 1947, Robinson took Ebbets Field as the Dodgers Opening Day second basemen. Robinson made history this day, breaking the color barrier in the MLB. He now has this special day dedicated towards him on April 15th each year, with every team in the majors wearing his number, 42. As he began playing well in his first season with the Dodgers, most of his teammates fully supported him and recognized his value to the team. Fans both black and white began filling the park to see the man himself, Jackie Robinson, in action (Go.galegroup).
In 1947, Robinson won Rookie of the year award, he held a .297 average that year (Negro Leagues). During his MVP campaign in 1949, he had multiple accomplishments.He won the National League batting title with a .342 average, drove in 124 runs, and stole 37 bases (Negro Leagues). The team set new attendance records. In 1950, Robinson was paid an annual salary of $35,000, which was tops in Dodgers history at the time (Go.galegroup). A movie about his life opened in theaters that year. Frommer wrote, Just as Robinson had placed his stamp on baseball, his historic role in baseball had stamped him (Go.galegroup).
The Dodgers won 6 National League pennants during Robinson’s 10 seasons, including one world championship (Baseball HOF). Robinson was the joint record holder for the most double plays by second baseman, 137 in 1951. Led second baseman in this category from 1949-1952 (Carney-Smith). He also holds the fielding mark for second baseman, playing 150 or more games with a .992 fielding percentage (Carney-Smith). Robinson had 6 consecutive seasons of batting over .300 (Go.galegroup). During his 10 year career: hit .311 in 1,382 games, 1,518 hits, 947 runs, 273 doubles, 734 runs batted in, and stole home 19 times in World Series play (Go.galegroup). Robinson became known for stealing home. Robinson earned first-ballot Hall of Fame election in 1962.
Jackie Robinson had a big impact on the game of baseball and influenced many people around the whole world. Countless of African Americans have followed in his footsteps (Negro Leagues). His success and demeanor opened the door for other great black players such as Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, Roy Campanella, and Junior Gilliam (Go.galegroup). Today in professional baseball, minority players, including those from the Caribbean and elsewhere compromise some 20% of all Major League positions (Baseball & Af Am). Monte Irvin, who was a black player that came into the league after Jackie, said, Jackie Robinson opened the door of baseball to all men. He was the first to get an opportunity, but if he had not done such a great job, the path would have been much more difficult (Go.galegroup).
Without Robinsons outstanding ability to get to the MLB, it would almost be impossible for African Americans to be able to play. Blacks began to stream into pro baseball, breaking records that had previously been held by white superstars (Baseball & Af Am). By the 1970s, blacks were on every roster and were joined by talented players from Latin America (Baseball & Af Am). It represented both the dream and the fear of equal opportunity, and it would forever change the complexion of the game and attitudes of Americans, both Robert Lipstye and Pete Levine said about Jackie Robinson (Baseball HOF). Robinson may have had the most influence on the path of getting to a professional sport than any other athlete in history. His ability to play the game made it possible, but without his great mental and physical strength, this would not have been capable. Authors Robert Lipstyle and Pete Levine wrote, It was the most eagerly anticipated debut in the annals of the national pastime (Baseball HOF).
Millions of people around the world impatiently waited for this moment to happen. Jackie Robinson changed the game of baseball. His impact on the game will forever be remembered. Robinson’s path to the Major Leagues was astounding, becoming the first African American to play in the MLB. People will not only remember for his ability to play the game, but for his outstanding mental physical and strength.
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