April 15, 1947 changed the game of baseball forever. A young man named Jackie Robinson entered the arena as a Brooklyn Dodger. Baseball had not had an African American player since 1889 when baseball became segregated. Jackie Robinson is being honored today for changing the face of baseball in a fearless manner.
Robinson had no easy road ahead of him but the president of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, had faith in him. He had to endure what no one should have to put up with in their life time. Robinson, being the man he was, handled it with grace and integrity. He was hackled, slurs were shouted at him and threats were a regular day for Robinson. It is hard to imagine a time when that was normal, practices that demeaned men simply because they were different. Robinson stood tall and played ball.
In Robinson’s rookie season he had won Rookie of the Year. He finished the year stealing 29 bases, hitting 12 home runs and a batting average of .297. Two years later he was selected as the Most Valuable player of the Year and a batting average of .342.
Jackie Robinson grew up in Cairo, Georgia where his family was sharecroppers. His life was battered with prejudice in the south, experience that may very well have given him the strength to enter the public arena as a Dodger. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and not too many were happy about the change, but here we are today, honoring the man as it should be.
Robinson is described as a humble man who never let the color of his skin define who he was or what he could do. It was not easy for Robinson but because of him, those lines have nearly disappeared and baseball is all the better for it.
There are still people who cannot accept the barrier that Robinson broke, but it is time to get over their ego and understand that the color of someone’s skin does not grant anyone the right to judge or elevate themselves in any way. Robinson leveled the playing field, thanks to his courage; the game today that is pure.
Robinson will be remembered for his political and artistic contributions to the game of baseball. Major League Baseball, wearing the No. 42 in honor of Robinson, will echo the sentiment for the Hall of Famer and his life.
He meant a great deal to the game, but more so, gave hope that America may put behind it the racial segregation that haunts our history. The life and legacy of Robinson will be remembered as one of the most important in American History.
The Dodger great faced an uphill battle that most men would have just gave up and walked away from. Why would someone put themselves through the ridicule and oppressive garbage he endured? Robinson went through it for the love of the game. He just wanted to play baseball; he fully grasped the weight of the situation, but didn’t care. He had support from a good portion of his team and a family that backed him in all his decisions.
One can really only imagine what must have gone through his head and how the weight of the situation must have put pressure on him. Yet, Robinson went out and played ball, winning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable player which is no small achievement in baseball. That is a testament to his ability as a ball player and a man who earned his place in history.
His play speaks for itself, but his life, it speaks for all of us. Mr. Robinson deserves the honor bestowed on him, mounting a struggle that most could not have begun to handle. So today, Americans Honor Jackie Robinson, the man that changed the face of baseball forever.
Commentary by Jabar Morarend