Jackie Robinson did something most were afraid to do in his time, standing up for what you believe in. When you’re awarded a gift, its hard to suppress it and become what others want you to be, so he did what was in his heart… played baseball.
April 15, 1947 is a date that changed baseball. A date that will forever be known as Jackie Robinson day. Jackie Robinson entered the league during a time where blacks and whites couldn’t even share a water fountain yet that didn’t stop him from making headline news. Robinson became the first African-American to enter Major League Baseball since 1889 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, teams around the league will honor the Hall of Famer, some by even wearing the infamous number “42”. Even though he was raised by a single mother he defied odds by not only becoming UCLA’s first athlete to win varsity letters in four different sports, but by becoming a standout athlete in Major league Baseball. Robinson is a six-time all-star, won rookie of the year his first season in 1947 all while finishing his career with 1,518 hits, 947 runs, 137 home runs, and 197 stolen bases.
“Jackie Robinson is an American icon whose accomplishments and leadership continue to inspire us in Baseball and our society at large,” MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “Major League Baseball proudly celebrates his enduring legacy, which is reflected by extraordinary on-field diversity of players from all backgrounds, enthusiastic participation in youth baseball and softball, and proven results in diverse business efforts.”
Not many of us can imagine what its like facing scrutiny, not being able to react to hate or being the bigger person, but Jackie did so admirably. Jackie wasn’t alone when he endured hatred, his wife Rachel was his backbone and strength. Rachel made sure her husband didn’t face the world alone.
Jack made a pact with Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Dodgers, and a pioneer in his own right. He would not respond to provocation regardless of what it was, or how much it hurt.
He was physically and verbally abused, particularly when he was on the road, in certain cities. The taunts angered him, sometimes frightened him, but he turned away from them.
I think the lesson for us is: if you have an overriding goal, a big goal that you’re trying to achieve, there are times when you must transcend the obstacles that are being put in your way. Rise above them. Jack wanted to integrate athletics. He could not afford to create an incident on the field that would interfere with reaching this goal.
Today the league embraces Jackie. Athletes made statements about what today means to them.
“It’s one of the great days we celebrate during any season,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday before his club concluded its four-game series against the Yankees. “The challenges he went through? All personally I can do is read about them. I have no idea the challenges he faced and the strength he demonstrated every day that he walked on the field.”
“It’s a wonderful thing that they have Jackie Robinson Day. That goes without saying,” Jeter said. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know his family over the years. I first met his wife that first year at the Baseball Writers’ dinner in 1996. I’ve gotten to know her well, same thing with her daughter. We all look forward to having that game when we all get to wear that No. 42 and honor him.”
“The barrier [Robinson] broke in baseball transcends the world, really,” Padres closer Huston Street said. “What he stood for, the example he set, what he stood for as a human being. He made it better for everybody and taught us. He deserves recognition.”
“Obviously, Jackie has meant a great deal to all of us,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He meant a lot to Mo in wearing that number and the way Mo wore that number with such a lot of pride. Derek has been very involved. It means a lot for Derek to play on those days and be a part of that.”
Jackie Robinson can be an example to us all. You are who you are, don’t change for other people. Embrace everything about you because there is no one else who can duplicate you. The world isn’t perfect and probably never will be, but we all can take a step forward in changing the world for the better by being the example we want to see. Don’t stop fighting for human rights, don’t stop fighting for your rights. Voices need to be heard and the only way we can hear you is if you speak. Love and happiness have no color, lets embrace each other as we are and continue to move forward as a society and people.
“The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.”
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