The Life And Achievements Of Jackie Robinson

The Major League Baseball player that wouldn’t let segregation in the early 1900s separate him from doing what he loved. Unlike many playing sports came natural to Jackie Robinson he played many sports like baseball, basketball, football and track but most importantly he was known for his outstanding record in the MLB. On April 15 each season, every team in the majors celebrates Jackie Robinson Day in honor of when he truly broke the color barrier in baseball, becoming the first African-American player in the 20th century to take the field in the big leagues. He opened the door for many others and he will forever be appreciated for his contribution to the game. I chose to write about Robinson for this paper because I for many years played sports like softball, volleyball, and football and it made a huge impact on my life and if it wasn’t for him probably wouldn’t have met the amazing coaches and teammates that I did.

In Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919 Robinson was born. He was the youngest of five children and spent his early years in Georgia, after his father deserted the family when Robinson was only six months old. Mallie Robinson, his mother had to move the family to California for work, California treated black people to segregation in that time but less than in the South. Unlike the South California was more lenient with segregation laws but this still troubled Robinson. In high school he was a troubled young boy with anger because of segregation laws his outlet was sports. Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports baseball, basketball , football, and track in high school. He later attended the University of California as the top young collegiate running back in 1939. Robinson left college before graduating due to financial difficulties, then he joined the Honolulu Bears professional football team in the fall of 1941. He later decided to enlist in the army.. after two years he was promoted to second lieutenant, his army career then was cut short because of an issue with racial discrimination. In the end he left the army with an honorable discharge.

Knowing his history and achievements, Branch Wrigley, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, approached Jackie about joining the major leagues, yet there had not been an African-American player since 1889 when baseball became segregated. Dodger owner Walter O’Malley stated in Harvey Frommer’s book Rickey & Robinson: The Man Who Broke Baseball's Color Barrier, “Branch wanted Jackie because he knew Jackie had absolutely fierce pride and determination.” October 3, 1945 Robinson signed a contract with Reckley to play for the Dodgers the Montreal Royals in the international league. Sportswriters and owners were against this integration claiming it would destroy major-league baseball but both Rickey and Robinson were confident of their decisions. Robinson said, “I think I am right, the right man to pick for this test. There is no possible chance that I will flunk or quit before the end for any other reason than that I am not good enough ball player.” Moreover, spring training came in Florida then it was tough for Robinson because of the segregation laws, he was forced to ride in the back of buses and some games he was scheduled to play were canceled due to his presence. He proved his worth that season by leading the Royals to the championship in the Little World Series his performance made it clear that he was ready for the major leagues. Not all of the Dodgers were supportive of this decision, moving Robinson up to the major leagues, some players said that they wouldn’t play with Robinson. In 1947 Robinson‘s arrival on the major-league scene prompted a movement of racially motivated actions. The Cardinals started to go on strike then they had to back down when the National League president Ford Frick threatened to ban all strikers from professional baseball. Baserunners would try to spike him with their metal cleats, pitchers would often throw a ball directly at him, and he was always thrown racial insults. He would receive hate mail like death threats and letters of people threatening saying that they were going to kidnap his son. Through and through Robinson held his tongue indifference to Wrigley’s wishes as hard as it was he stated in his autobiography I Never Had It Made, “I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.”

In Robinson's rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers he was awarded National League rookie of the year with 12 home runs also, leading 29 steals, and a .297 overall average. In 1949 he was selected the National League’s most valuable player of the year. Also won the batting title with a .342 average all in one year resulting in this greatest success Jackie was eventually inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. After his retirement Robinson became a successful businessman and an active supporter of political causes devoted in his efforts to pursue a better life for African Americans. He also worked with Harlem YMCA in New York and was a member of the board of Freedom National Bank to protect black capitalism. By the early 1970s Robinson was still pressing for integration in sports most of all he wanted to see black manager and professional baseball. In 1947 Frank Robinson became the first black major league manager taking over the reins of Cleveland Indians, Robinson was honored in 1972 when he was asked to throw out the ball to open the second game of the 75th World Series at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Although Jackie was young in his 50s Robinson’s physical health at this time a declining, he had survived one heart attack and his body had suffered for years from diabetes and high blood pressure. Less than two weeks after this toss at the World Series Robinson collapsed at his home in Connecticut and passed away later that day. His funeral was held at Riverside Church in New York City attracting more than 2,500 people, including many celebrities and political writers.

To conclude, Robinson was a leader he never went with the flow of things he always went against the grain, he refused to be swayed by those who objected to his choices. He never took for granted his role in the integration of sports and opening opportunities for black people in the United States. As Fromer wrote “just as Robinson had placed his stand stamp on baseball, his historic role in baseball had stamped him.” He arrives in the right place at the right time in history Robinson had a major impact on the black struggle for equality in the 29th century. I will always look up to Robinson through his trials and tribulations he stuck to one goal and that was to serve his people in the black community to stand up against laws so that all Americans black or white all should be equal. He is also a great hero to look up to his athleticism in football and baseball are astonishing. His bravery kick started the end of segregation in a 29th century and we will always honor and commemorate him for it. Although even today black people are treated differently because of the color of their skin no matter what you are or where you come from, we're all the same, we are all equal the person to the left of me is no better than the person to the right and I am no better than either of them. We all need to work together to strive for greatness, not against each other I pray one day we will be in a place where there is no more judgment, hurt, fear, or unapproval.

Works Cited

  • Frommer, Harvey, Rickey & Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball's Color Barrier, Macmillan, 1982.
  • Robinson, Jackie, I Never Had It Made, Putnam, 1972.
  • Connor, Anthony J., Baseball for the Love of It: Hall of Famers Tell It Like It Was, Macmillan, 1982, pp. 127, 211.
  • 'Jackie Robinson.' St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture Online, Gale, 2013. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 2 Nov. 2019.
  • 'On Jackie's Day, Legend's Impact to Resonate,', (September 7, 2017).     
16 December 2021
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