Why did jackie robinson play baseball ? Most people, when they think of a very influential person in sports, will have a current, famous person pop into their mind. Most of the people in New England, would say Tom Brady. Yes, he does have outstanding achievements, yet he would not be considered one of the most influential people in sports. But Jackie Robinson, is one of the most influential sports players, having ended 60 years of racial segregation in the Major League Baseball. But he did not have an easy time getting to that point, and achieving the amazing things he did.
Jackie Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo Georgia. He was the youngest of five children. But when he was only six months old, his father, Jerry Robinson, left the family. His family moved in 1920, when he was 14 months old, to Pasadena, California. They had a hard time there, needing the help from a welfare agency to get a house, and having to deal with all of their racist neighbors.
Their neighbors petitioned to get them out of the neighborhood, and some even were willing to buy them out of the house. But Jackie Robinson’s talents began to show at an early age, and in high school, he played baseball, basketball, football, and track. But when he was in college at UCLA, baseball was probably his weakest sport. He had to drop out of college due to financial problems. He went to Hawaii to play football with the Honolulu Bears in 1941. In 1942 after coming back home, he was drafted into the army.
After his discharge from the army in 1945, he went to play with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League. During this point in time, Branch Ricky, had been looking at players in the Negro Leagues. Ricky was the president, general manager, and part-owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers; and the orchestrator of Organized Baseball Desegregation.
He was scouring the Negro Leagues, looking for those talented enough for the Major League; and while Robinson may not have been the best, he looked like a very good choice. In October of 1945, he signed a contract with the Montreal Royals International League, the top minor league of the Dodgers organization. He was making significant progress in the integration of baseball, but many MLB owners still refused to consider any colored players for their teams.
They still wouldn’t, even though the pool of players had decreased due to players being injured in the war. But in November of 1944, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis passed away. He was thought to be one of the people preventing the integration, and Ricky was then able to integrate the Dodgers.
Once on the team, the racial segregation in the MLB began to come to an end. Jackie Robinson went on to win many different achievements. He was the first African American to win batting title, to win Most Valuable Player, and to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was also the MLB’s first official Rookie of the Year, and the first baseball player, black or white, to be on a US postage stamp. Jackie Robinson changed the world for many African American baseball players. Due to him, baseball players of any ethnicity have an equal chance of making it in to the Major League.
Play Ball! Paving the way for Jackie Robinson
Ask almost any American on the street who was the first African American to play in modern Major League baseball, and many will say Jackie Robinson. Robinson broke the color barrier when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on Opening Day, April 15, 1947.
Robinson almost immediately became the league’s best player by virtue of his completeness. While some players were brilliant hitters or had blazing speed on the bases or were remarkable fielders, Robinson had it all.
Baseball fans, in particular, are quite familiar with Robinson’s story. They may have seen the famous film clip of Robinson stealing home plate against the New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series.
Robinson was a brilliant player by every measure. His historic accomplishment breaking modern baseball’s color barrier was made possible as a result of those who came before him.
When baseball teams initially organized in the decades following the Civil War, there were some integrated teams. Slowly, however, segregation began to take hold in baseball and mirror mainstream culture.
As a result, black players and businessmen began looking in earnest for ways to organize leagues featuring African American players. In 1897, following a number of failed attempts, a group of Galveston, Texas businessmen set out to create what would be called the Lone Star Colored Baseball League of Texas.
The league organizers identified a man whose business acumen and abilities as a player were already well known to both whites and blacks. That man was John W. “Bud” Fowler.
Fowler, well known to baseball aficionados and sports historians, is often overlooked in the larger history of the game. Fowler is considered by some as the first African American to break baseball’s color barrier in 1878 for New Castle, Pennsylvania.
Three years later, however, Moses Fleetwood Walker joined the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association. The American Association at the time was considered to be a “major” league, and as such, Walker is considered by many of the sport’s historians to be the first African American to break the major league baseball color barrier.
Regardless of how “first” is defined, Walker and Fowler were among a handful of black players who established themselves across the country as respected players on integrated teams.
Even as segregation worked its way into baseball in the late 1800s, Fowler’s talent kept him in lineups on primarily white teams. But Fowler knew more than just how to play the game. He understood the economics of it, too.
So when Lone Star League founders approached Fowler and asked him to help establish the league, Fowler agreed but only if he was given complete control. The organizers readily agreed. The Lone Star League was quite successful and paved the way for the larger, more renowned Negro leagues that began to be established in the 1920s.
In 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster, often called “the father of black baseball,” successfully united established black teams from around the South and Midwest into what would be the first truly “major” Negro league, the National Negro League.
Why Jackie Robinson was an even better baseball player than you realize
The meeting that took place in Branch Rickey’s office on Montague Street in Brooklyn in late August of 1945 has obtained an almost apocryphal status. Dodgers scout Clyde Sukeforth had met up with Jackie Robinson in Toledo, and the two traveled together to New York to meet the Dodgers’ general manager. Sukeforth ushered Robinson into Rickey’s office and warned his boss that he had not had a chance to see Robinson throw from the shortstop hole, as Rickey had requested, because Robinson had been nursing a sore shoulder.
Rickey and Robinson sized each other up. A long minute of silence passed. “When Rickey met somebody he was interested in, he studied them in the most profound way,” Sukeforth would say. “He just sat and stared. And that’s what he did with Robinson — stared at him as if he were trying to get inside the man.”
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